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Tube PPP firms help out with strike talks

PRIVATE CONSORTIA poised to take on the £16bn upgrade of London's Underground have been helping Tube managers in their efforts to end the current industrial disputes, which threaten to cripple the project.

Metronet and Tubelines have been assisting London Underground (LUL) in its talks with union officials, even though they are not expected to start work until next month.

The two contractors will inherit maintenance staff from LUL when they sign the £16bn public-private-partnership (PPP) contracts in early November. Up to 3,000 of the staff are members of the Railway, Maritime & Transportation (RMT) union which has been involved in a series of walk outs over pay and safety.

LUL staff have held two 24 hour strikes this autumn, bringing chaos to the capital. They are threatening more if LUL does not guarantee a 5.7% pay increase. The Tube was also shut down earlier this year in an as yet unresolved row over safety under the PPP.

Maintenance employees such as track operators are paid £16,000 a year. LUL has currently offered 3%.

A Tubelines spokesman said this week that it had been stressing to union chiefs that staff will have a better working environment after the transfer. Tubelines comprises Jarvis, Amey and Bechtel Halcrow 'We'll be improving their standard of accommodation at work, ' said a spokesman.

A Metronet 'transition team' has been visiting maintenance depots to speak to workers along the Bakerloo, Central, Victoria, Circle and Metropolitan lines.

Metronet comprises Balfour Beatty, Atkins, Thames Water, Seeboard and Adtranz.

Nina Lovelace INFOPLUS www. thetube. com

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