TUBE workers have voted overwhelmingly to strike if talks on staffing issues with London Underground (LU) continue towards the abyss.

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Members of the Transport and Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), usually seen as the least strike-happy of the Tube unions, voted by 81 percent to 19 percent in favour of strike action.

“We hope that LU now recognise that feeling and will reach a sensible agreement with us which ensures that London has the safest Tube system in the world in the run-up to the Olympic Games in four years’ time,” said TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty.

The issues behind the strike-call are the increasing use of agency staff by LU and the closure and partial closure of some ticket offices. Unions say agency staff compromise passenger safety; LU say “these issues have nothing whatsoever to do with safety.”

TSSA members are mostly to be found working in station ticket offices and control rooms so a strike wouldn’t totally close down London Underground. However, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, which represents most of LU’s staff is also set for a strike ballot on broadly similar issues.