Unions could paralyse capital on key shopping days
London retailers could face Christmas chaos if strike action on the London Underground, threatened by union leaders, goes ahead over the festive period.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union working at Metronet, the company responsible for Tube maintenance, voted four to one in favour of industrial action. Members are warning that unless a row over contracting out maintenance work is resolved by Friday, employees will hold three days of walkouts from December 19.

A Metronet spokesman said the RMT has been given assurances regarding the dispute. He said: 'We expect the RMT executives to meet on Friday and we are hoping they will lift the strike action.'

The row is over outsourcing the maintenance of trains and lifts to third parties, as well as jobs and pensions for maintenance staff.

According to media reports, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said some progress has been made in talks with Metronet. He said an agreement had been reached over a 35-hour working week, but not on outsourcing.