Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:20 UK

Mayor accused of playing politics

Bob Crow
Bob Crow denied any "personal animosity" towards London's mayor

As a 48-hour strike by Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) members continues, their leader Bob Crow has written an open letter to London Mayor Boris Johnson.

He has urged the mayor to engage in face-to-face talks and stop "playing politics" with the Tube.

This is my 31st year as a member of the RMT and a worker on London Underground and in all that time I have never experienced such dishonesty from any management that I have dealt with.

I am writing to you as both mayor of London and chairman of Transport for London to urge you to agree to direct face-to-face talks with myself to resolve this dispute and to also address the pack of lies that have been fed to the media.

The facts are that yesterday the RMT negotiating team and myself attended nearly seven hours of talks at ACAS, at the end of which I was confident we had the basis for an agreement which could settle this dispute.

On the question of pay, your management made a revised offer of a two year deal or four year deal.

It was agreed that we would go away, speak to our members and representatives and come back to them.

We said it didn't need to be decided immediately and that we would suspend the action on this issue.

It is an absolute disgrace that we should reach an agreement in good faith only for that agreement to be sabotaged
Bob Crow, RMT Leader

With regard to disciplinary procedures, it is an out and out lie that we were only interested in the two sacked drivers.

Instead there have been widespread and prolonged abuse of the procedures.

It was therefore agreed that ACAS would look at all cases and we said that we would be able to suspend the action to allow this to go ahead.

Similarly, we agreed an end to management abuse of sickness procedures.

In respect of redundancies, we were simply asking for your management to honour a longstanding agreement reached in 2001 that there would be not compulsory redundancies.

You will be aware that this agreement was borne out of well founded fears that the part privatisation of the Tube would be a disaster for passengers and workers alike.

At 6pm last night and an hour before the strike was to begin, this issue was also agreed with Acting Managing Director, Richard Parry.

In fact I signed a document to this effect and this was to go back in front of the RMT Executive immediately so that we could suspend the strike.

Then astonishingly at 6.35pm whilst awaiting the final typed agreement we were told by management that they had made a phone call and that they could no longer abide by the agreement - they reneged before the ink was even dry.

We were stunned that management could be so dishonest.

London Mayor Boris Johnson
Mr Crow accused Boris Johnson of deliberating fermenting the strike

I have no doubt that the phone call made was to the Transport Commissioner or City Hall who instructed the management team to pull the agreed deal.

It is an absolute disgrace that we should reach an agreement in good faith only for that agreement to be sabotaged.

Either your senior management are completely dishonest or have no authority to negotiate.

Or it is the case that you have personally intervened to scupper the deal in the belief that a confrontation with Tube workers will serve your political agenda.

Londoners will be appalled that you are playing politics with the Tube and will be entitled to ask why, not only as mayor but also as Chair of Transport for London, you are running away from face-to-face talks.

It is absolute nonsense, as some are trying to suggest, that there is some personal animosity between us.

I am prepared to meet you anytime and anywhere to resolve this dispute and look forward to hearing from you.

I am copying this letter to members of the Transport for London Board, members of the GLA and London MPs.

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