London Tube strike will go ahead on Friday, says union

·4-min read
London Tube strike will go ahead on Friday, says union

The 24-hour Tube strike due to start early on Friday morning will go ahead, union bosses insisted on Thursday.

This threatens to bring chaos - and likely station and line closures - to five Tube lines.

The lines affected are the Victoria, Central, Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly. RMT drivers have been told not to clock on from 4.30am on Friday.

TfL said the strike will result in “little or no service in places”, with the Waterloo and City line - which uses Central line drivers - also likely to be hit.

The dispute is over the night shifts that drivers are required to work to enable the restart of the Night Tube, which is due to resume overnight on Saturday night for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The RMT says the rotas being imposed on Tube drivers would wreck their work-life balance by “bulldozing through additional night and weekend working”.

But Transport for London says the changes have been agreed by other unions and would result in drivers working about four night shifts a year.

The action will also blight the restart of the Night Tube as Victoria and Central line drivers are also under orders not to work from 830pm on Saturday until 430am on Sunday.

These two lines have been selected by TfL for the restart of the Night Tube. TfL says it still expects to run a Night Tube service but admits there are likely to be fewer trains than hoped.

Further action each weekend in the run-up to Christmas is planned on the Central and Victoria lines, culminating with a five-line 24-hour shutdown on the final Saturday before Christmas.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said on Thursday: “This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success. Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.

“We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is clear that London Underground bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well-being of their staff or the service to passengers.”

The dispute has come about following the decision in May to merge the Night Tube workforce of about 200 drivers, all whom worked part-time, with the “day” Tube staff - meaning that all drivers could be required to work occasional Night Tube shifts.

Mr Lynch said: “This strike action, and it’s serious consequences in the run up to Christmas, was avoidable if the Tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.

“We warned months ago that slashing 200 Night Tube train driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and LU need to start facing up to that reality and soon. The union remains available for further talks even at this late stage.”

TfL on Thursday called for the RMT to call off the strike and enter talks about the staffing requirements of the Night Tube.

TfL said the RMT hadn’t presented “any workable alternatives” to the roster changes and refused a recent offer to jointly review the Night Tube after a trial period.

Nick Dent, director of London Underground customer operations, said: “The RMT’s planned strike action is needless and it will threaten London’s recovery from the pandemic, despite no job losses and more flexibility and job certainty for drivers.

“While every other union has agreed to these changes and our staff have been enjoying the benefits of the changes since August, we’re willing to work with the RMT and review the changes after Night Tube services have returned. This review can only be successful if the RMT agrees to meet us for talks and withdraws its proposed action so we can all see how these changes will work in practice.

“If the RMT refuses to engage with us and carries out its unnecessary action, which is timed to cause maximum disruption for our customers looking to enjoy London during the festive season, Londoners are advised to check before they travel on days of planned strike action.”

Read More

London Underground: Why is a strike taking place and what tube lines will be affected?

London Tube Strike: How to get around London without five Tube lines

Evening Standard Comment: The London Tube strikes should not go ahead this weekend

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