A tube strike that threatened to bring days of disruption to London this week has been suspended.
The transport union RMT announced that it was calling off the industrial action it planned to start on Tuesday, to allow talks to continue with London Underground at the conciliation service Acas.
The 11th-hour decision came after Transport for London had warned passengers of severe disruption to the transport system, with many lines closed from lunchtime. Strikes are still planned to run over four days from Tuesday 24 August, should continuing talks at Acas fail to reach a resolution.
The dispute is over changes to London’s night tube service, which was reduced during the pandemic. The separate pool of designated night-time drivers is to be abolished, which the union said would cut part-time jobs and hurt work-life balance.
TfL said the changes would allow it to operate all tube services more efficiently and that no driver would lose their job as a result, or be forced to take on new duties.
Mick Lynch, the RMT’s general secretary, said: “Following extensive and wide-ranging discussions through the Acas machinery, we have hammered out enough ground to allow those talks to continue. As a result, this week’s strike action is suspended, although the rest of the planned action remains on.
“I want to thank our members and our reps whose unity and determination has allowed us to reach this stage today and we look forward to pursuing the important issues at the heart of this dispute in the next phase of talks.”
Richard Jones, head of network operations for London Underground, said: “We welcome the decision by the RMT to suspend their action to allow further discussions to take place.
“We are confident that the changes we have made to rosters are positive for London Underground train drivers and the services we offer as London recovers from the pandemic. We look forward to discussions continuing.”
According to TfL, 41 part-time drivers have been able to remain part-time, with 173 previously part-time drivers choosing to switch to full-time contracts. TfL said it now expected services to run as normal this week, although major engineering work will still affect Circle and District line trains.
Meanwhile, Transport for Greater Manchester has warned passengers it will have to temporarily reduce tram services owing to Covid-related staff absences, whether sick or self-isolating. The interval between Metrolink trams will be increased to 12 minutes from this Friday.
TfGM’s head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said the “pingdemic” was having a significant impact across multiple sectors: “Moving to a temporary 12-minute frequency will ensure we can operate a more reliable service and alleviate some of the pressure staff are under, which is extremely important for their own wellbeing.”