It’s the last thing London needs. Commuters, shoppers and party-goers are facing the unwelcome prospect of a wave of strikes in the run-up to Christmas as a second transport union threatens a staff walkout.
The RMT has warned of industrial action over the impact of the return of Night Tube on its members, while Aslef is unhappy about changes to pensions that form part of a previous bailout between the Government and Transport for London.
And today the RMT said it was ready to join Aslef in defending staff pensions, with the threat of prolonged action very real.
Strikes affecting the Tube, just as the capital is getting back on its feet and businesses are gearing up for the crucial Christmas period, would be an enormous blow to the city. It also further highlights the risk to London of becoming the victim in a political war of attrition between ministers and City Hall.
As a consequence of the sudden drop-off in passenger numbers due to the pandemic, TfL required financial support in order to continue operating and enable key workers to do their jobs. Now, it needs something more substantial.
This newspaper has consistently called for a long-term settlement between the Government and TfL. The current hand-to-mouth approach is no way to run a modern transportation network for a global city.
A new, future-proof deal would, as commissioner Andy Byford rightly argues, allow TfL to plan for the future and make the necessary upgrades London needs.
There will be real anger if strikes go ahead at such a critical stage in the capital’s recovery. The unions and City Hall must return to the negotiating table and take decisions in the best interest of Londoners.