Londoners rejoice — the Tube strike has been called off. Following discussions through the ACAS arbitration service, the RMT and TSSA unions have called off the second 48 hour strike due to begin tomorrow. It seems to be a draw, with neither Transport for London nor the unions being crowned the winner.
In return for calling off all industrial action, TfL has agreed to two months of intensive talks ‘to examine LU’s proposals in detail’, combined with a review of every station which significantly ‘could result in some ticket offices remaining open.’ Boris Johnson said:
‘TfL’s negotiators have been ready since November to discuss the detail around ticket office closures and wider modernisation of the Tube. It’s welcome news that the unions appear to recognise that, and will return to full and substantive discussions with TfL between now and the end of the consultation period in early April.
‘Sitting down to discuss those proposals, free from the prospect of strike action, was always the only sensible way forward. I’m grateful to TfL’s negotiating team and pleased the unions agree this is the right way forward.’
The RMT obviously don’t think so and in a statement, Bob Crow claims his union never wanted to go on strike in the first place:
‘It is unfortunate that we were forced and provoked into a dispute that we never wanted and we are now in a position to move on with the clear understanding that our action is suspended but if there is any further attempt to impose change from above the action will go back on.’
The unions can claim that they did not shift away from their initial position and that there is now the possibility of some ticket offices remaining open. Yet TfL can boast they aren’t going to scrap or drastically alter their modernisation plan — and 24-hour Tubes during the weekend will still happen. Now both parties must agree on a proper plan before the negotiation period is up in April. Otherwise, there’s the possibility of more disruptive strikes.