Londoners face Tube misery as workers set to strike from Sunday

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An underground train pulls into Leicester Square station in central London February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON Londoners face transport chaos at the start of the working week after two unions representing workers on the London Underground said they would go ahead with a 24-hour strike from Sunday evening.

Metro operator Transport for London (TfL) said most stations in central London would be closed due to the action by the RMT and TSSA unions in a dispute over staffing levels after the closure of ticket offices in recent years.

The walkout on the Tube is part of a wave of strikes hitting British rail and air passengers at the start of 2017.

Thousands of commuters are suffering Britain’s worse rail disruption in decades in a dispute over the whose role it should be to open and close doors on Southern’s trains, while British Airways staff will strike for two days over pay on Tuesday.

TfL said services would not start until 0700 GMT on Monday, and they would be severely reduced across the network, with no trains from stations such as Victoria, Kings Cross and Waterloo.

The London Underground, better known as the Tube, carries up to 4.8 million passengers a day.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan appealed to the unions to cancel the strike, which he said would cause misery for millions of workers and tourists in the city.

“My message to the unions is clear: it is not too late to cancel this strike and get back around the negotiating table for the sake of all Londoners,” he said.

“I have instructed Transport for London to continue negotiating and we will be available all weekend to try and resolve this dispute.”

TfL said it agreed more staff were needed in stations, and it had already started recruiting 200 extra workers.

Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer for London Underground, said there was no need to strike.

“We had always intended to review staffing levels and have had constructive discussions with the unions,” he said on Sunday.

But TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said TfL’s offer did not go far enough.

“Whilst (our reps) accept the offer of more staff is a step in the right direction to restoring tube safety standards, they do not believe the offer will return those standards with the urgency that is now needed,” he said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alison Williams)

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