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Tube staff to vote on cuts action

Workers enraged by £270m budget slash and 750 job losses

Furious London Underground workers confirmed yesterday they will be voting on industrial action after it was announced that £270 million will be cut from its budget by scrapping 750 jobs and manned ticket offices.

Mayor Boris Johnson plans to slash £50m a year or £270m over the term of Transport for London's business plan to 2020/21.

The proposal will lead to a reduction of around 750 jobs out of LU's current total of 18,000, which includes 5,500 station staff. The railway union RMT are balloting for strike action in response.

A series of initiatives were also announced, including a new 24-hour weekend service from 2015 and staff based in ticket halls and on platforms rather than in ticket offices.

Mr Johnson said the initiatives "will further cement London's reputation as the best big city on the planet to in which to live, work, visit and invest."

But union and opposition leaders were left angered by the news.

RMT is balloting its members for strike action across the network and accused the major of creating diversions to hide the bad news.

General secretary Bob Crow said: "Throwing in the plan for night time operation at the weekends is just a smokescreen to try and camouflage the real issue. Axing staff and ticket offices is part of the drive to a faceless, automated Tube where you take your chances the moment you step onto a station, a platform or a train."

Leader of the TSSA rail union Manuel Cortes accused Boris Johnson of being the "hypocrite of the decade," saying the announcement would lead to the closure of all 268 Tube ticket offices by the end of next year.

He said: "The mayor who was elected in 2008 on a pledge to keep open every ticket office is now planning to close every single one.

"We shall be launching a joint campaign with Labour to reverse this decision."

Shadow London minister Sadiq Khan said the decision would cause "anxiety" for commuters while Labour MP John McDonnell commented: "The proposed job losses are a disgrace. Cutting this number of staff from the platforms and ticket offices will undermine public confidence and is a direct threat to public safety."

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