PASSENGERS on the Piccadilly Line of London Underground have been warned to be clear of the route by 13.00 today (Wednesday), as three days of strikes begin.
The RMT said ‘the dispute is over a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations, abuse of procedures and the reneging on key safety and operational improvements promised by management after previous rounds of industrial action’, but TfL accused the union of ‘failing to engage’ with managers during talks at Acas.
The walkouts mean that the Piccadilly will be closed from early on Wednesday afternoon for 48 hours.
Services should return on Friday afternoon, but a further stoppage will begin towards the end of the evening, and there will be no Night Tube. TfL is hoping to restore trains between Cockfosters and Heathrow by 07.30 on Saturday morning, with the remaining section between Acton Town, Rayners Lane and Uxbridge seeing services again by 08.30.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘RMT is angry, frustrated and disgusted that tube bosses have wrecked the planned Acas talks today by denying reality and refusing point blank to make serious progress on the core issues that have reduced industrial relations on the Piccadilly Line to a powder keg.
‘That is a deliberate and irresponsible act by an LU management hell-bent on confrontation. The attitude of tube managers on the Piccadilly Line has been deliberately provocative and obstructive and it is that stance, including the back-tracking on operational, staffing and safety improvements agreed after previous rounds of action on the line, that led to the current dispute in the first place.’
He also said Underground management had turned the talks at Acas ‘into a talking shop [which] has deliberately slammed the door on any possible progress’.
TfL’s director of network operations on London Underground Nigel Holness responded: ‘The RMT has unilaterally ended discussions at Acas and informed us that their strike on the Piccadilly line will go ahead.
‘They have made no attempt to engage with us to try and resolve this dispute. We continue to uphold all our commitments following discussions with the RMT earlier in the year and their claims that no progress has been made are totally untrue. We are hugely disappointed that customers will suffer three days of disruption for no good reason.’
TfL Rail services from Paddington offer one alternative route to Heathrow, but TfL warned that Oyster cards and Travelcards will not be accepted on the faster Heathrow Express.