London underground workers declare 48-hour strike

LONDON (AFP) - Workers on London's Underground train system will stage a 48-hour strike next Tuesday, the transport union said, risking travel chaos in a long-running dispute over ticket offices closures.

Members of the 80,000-strong Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced a strike next week from the evening of Oct 14 to the evening of Oct 16. The walkout coincides with strikes by health workers, civil servants and council workers across Britain in separate pay, jobs and spending cuts disputes.

The RMT said that insufficient progress had been made in talks over the closures, which the union says will risk hundreds of jobs and safety standards in the system known as the "Tube".

"The cuts, currently being bulldozed through, would de-staff whole areas of the Tube system at a time of surging passenger demand and would make evacuation and other basic safety procedures a physical impossibility," said RMT leader Mick Cash.

"RMT will not stand back and allow Government-driven austerity cuts to hollow out the Tube system and leave it as a dangerous shell."

Cash was last month elected new general secretary of the RMT, replacing the powerful Bob Crow, famous for leading numerous strikes that shut down the underground system. Cash promised there would be "no deviation" from Crow's strategy under his leadership.

London's Underground system is the oldest in the world and carries around three million passngers daily. The underground system management argue that few tickets are bought at booths due to machines and touch-payment systems, and say staff should be stationed on platforms instead.

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