Metronet strike threat called off after breakthrough

19-04-2008

Metronet strike threat called off after breakthrough
A union's threat to hold a 48-hour London Underground strike appears to have succeeded in achieving Metronet workers' demands.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said yesterday evening "substantial progress" had been made after its members voted by a margin of more than four to one yesterday to strike.

Staff working for the failing tube upgrade company were concerned that, with their employer switching to Transport for London (TfL), they would not be granted the benefits available to other TfL staff.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said TfL's refusal to provide anything other than "hedged, qualified and ambiguous" statements was disappointing after several weeks of negotiations.

However, strike plans were averted yesterday evening after RMT received a letter guaranteeing that there will be no outsourcing when Metronet contacts are taken back in-house by Metronet.

Nor will staff be denied access to the TfL pension fund or the same travel facilities as other TfL employees, Mr Crow said.

Although pleased with TfL's concession, which will be placed before the RMT's executive on Monday, Mr Crow criticised the London transport body for its delays on the issue.

"It is difficult to understand why these assurances could not have been given without us having to name strike dates," he added.

"Our members are to be congratulated for the stand they have taken against the creation of a two-tier workforce and for their determination not to be made to pay the price for the collapse of the public-private partnership and the greed of Metronet's shareholders."

Tube maintenance firm Metronet went into administration in July 2007, having delivered just 40 per cent of promised upgrade work in its first three years and run up £2 billion in unscheduled costs.

MPs predicted earlier this year that taxpayers are expected to be forced into paying for 95 per cent of its overspend.

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