Strike threat as tube staff are balloted

THOUSANDS of London commuters face further disruption this summer, as 600 staff at London Underground (LU) prepare to be balloted on industrial action, after union leaders rejected a final pay offer.<br /><br />Unite union said LU&rsquo;s offer of 1.5 per cent in the first year and retail prices index (RPI) plus 0.5 per cent in the second year &ldquo;does nothing to help Unite members to meet the real rises in the cost of living&rdquo;.<br /><br />Transport for London (TfL) condemned the ballot for strike action.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our staff have very fair pay and conditions. We have made an offer which provides stability during tough economic times,&rdquo; it said.<br /><br />&ldquo;We urge them to call off this ballot, which will achieve nothing,&rdquo; it added.<br /><br />The Unite members being balloted are engineers and management responsible for power control on the underground. The union said industrial action would bring the tubes to a standstill.<br /><br />&ldquo;We may be looking at another 48-hour strike,&rdquo; a Unite spokesman said.<br /><br />London&rsquo;s Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) said yesterday that line closures resulting from further strikes could cost the capital &pound;100m in lost business.<br /><br />&ldquo;While unions try and hold the capital to ransom, they should remember that two-thirds of companies in London have frozen staff pay this year,&rdquo; LCCI&rsquo;s chief executive Colin Stanbridge said.<br /><br />Last month&rsquo;s two-day industrial action was organised by the RMT union, which has around 10,000 members. Talks between RMT and LU are ongoing.<br /><br />Meanwhile, TfL said yesterday that Oyster card holders would be able to apply for a &pound;5 &ldquo;goodwill payment&rdquo; on their website if they suffered severe disruption to their journey during last month&rsquo;s 48-hour Tube strike.