London Underground hit by overtime ban as strike ends

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London's Underground train network was back to normal on Wednesday after a 24-hour strike caused travel misery for millions, although a new overtime ban by workers threatened to blight services.

The walkout ended late Tuesday with Londoners forced to cycle, walk or take to their cars on snarled-up roads in a bid to get home from work.

About 3.5 million Underground journeys are made on a normal weekday.

Three further 24-hour strikes are planned for October 3, November 2 and November 28, and workers have announced an indefinite overtime ban, which they said would affect services.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) went on strike over the planned axing of 800 out of 19,000 jobs on the Tube.

Transport for London said the ticket office jobs were no longer necessary thanks to the introduction of new Oyster electronic swipe cards, with some stations selling fewer than 10 paper tickets per hour.

Operators London Underground called on union leaders to "abandon their pointless strike action and to engage in meaningful discussions".

LU managing director Mike Brown said: "We heard from the unions that they were intent on paralysing London, but our customers and staff simply refused to let that happen.

"LU will not stay rooted in the past -- we have been clear that we need to change."

The RMT, led by left-wing stalwart Bob Crow, said the overtime ban would impact on LU's ability to run a full service.

Crow said: "RMT and TSSA members have shown through their solid support for this week's strike action, and the indefinite overtime ban, that they will not sit idly by while staffing levels are hacked to the bone and management turn the Tube system into a death trap through their dash for cuts."

© 2010 AFP

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