There is hope, if just a little, that the tube strikes scheduled for Sunday through Wednesday (5-8 February) could yet be averted as union chiefs and London Underground (LU) bosses enter Acas peace talks this morning (31 January).
Monday morning and Tuesday evening rush hours will be affected if the strikes go ahead. The walkouts are pencilled in for 6pm on Sunday 5 February until 10am on Monday 6 February, and 10am on Tuesday 7 February until 1am on Wednesday 8 February.
Optimism was buoyed yesterday afternoon when TSSA, who represent around 1,000 station and ticket staff announced they would not be striking next week after LU agreed to recruit more staff than previously promised.
LU have agreed to recruit 650 new station staff this year in response to union claims that passenger safety has been jeopardised by the cuts. TSSA have acknowledged the commitment and want to use today's talks to solidify the plans.
General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: "We will attend those talks and hope they will enable us to further pave the way for a return to a Tube that is fully staffed and fully safe for both our passengers and our members."
The RMT, who represent around 3,000 tube station workers, still plan to strike. But they have agreed to convene with LU and TSSA for discussions today in a bid to forge a compromise over future staff numbers in the aftermath of 900 job cuts imposed on the network by former mayor Boris Johnson.
An RMT spokesman confirmed that the larger union would also be present at negotiations. But he also warned that representatives were presently "agreed unanimously that all planned action remains on".
A 24-hour walkout on 9 January brought chaos to the capital. Millions of commuters were forced to tramp through heavy rainfall to get to work as increased traffic pressures brought the city centre to a standstill.
Steve Griffiths, London Underground's chief operating officer, said: "We have made a proposal to both unions in order to end this dispute. We will be recruiting at least 650 new station staff this year, of which 325 will be additional new roles.
The RMT argue that many of the new 325 jobs will be part time but LU have guaranteed that at least 200 of them will be full time.