TWO TUBE unions go on strike tonight in a battle with London Mayor Boris Johnson over safety, staff numbers and ticket office opening hours, that threatens to run on for months to come.

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From 5pm, thousands of fed up staff are set to walk out for a 24 hour stoppage that is likely to disrupt Tube services throughout tomorrow and on into Wednesaday.

Both the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and the Transport Salaried Staff Association say plans by TfL to cut 800 jobs spells danger for the public and breaks a promise made by Johnson when running for election.

“His plans to slash ticket office opening hours go considerably further than those he opposed in 2008 when trying to get elected as Mayor,” said Gerry Doherty, General Secretary of the TSSA.

The unions say that fewer staff at stations and ticket offices will mean lower safety standards for passengers.

“Instead of playing fast and loose with safety, it is about time that the Mayor and his officials took the safety issues at the heart of this dispute seriously,” said RMT leader Bob Crow.

The involvement of the usually moderate TSSA in this dispute has given the more militant RMT something of a publicity coup, one that Johnson appears to want to augment.

“We must be clear that the RMT and TSSA plan to inconvenience Londoners for no good reason,” said the Mayor.

Whatever he thinks of the rights and wrongs, to say people have “no good reason” to strike when 800 jobs are at stake isn’t likely to win Johnson many converts.