London Underground: What is the dispute about and when might the Tube strike happen?

·3-min read
London Underground: What is the dispute about and when might the Tube strike happen?

Train drivers on the London Underground have threatened to strike after 99 per cent of ASLEF’s union voted to protect working conditions and pensions in the capital.

It has not yet been confirmed when the strike will take place nor for how long but an announcement is expected to be imminent.

Members of the ASLEF union said they would take action if changes were forced through without negotiation.

Nearly £4bn in government bailouts has been paid to keep TfL services afloat during Covid.

It is feared commuters could face chaos if the strikes go ahead - we look at what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Who is striking?

Train drivers on the London Underground are expected to take part in the strike.

The overwhelming majority of ASLEF members on the Tube network returned a ‘Yes’ vote in a ballot to protect working conditions and pensions on the transport network in the capital.

Why are they striking?

ASLEF said the strike would occur if managers at Transport for London (TfL) attempted to change agreement without negotiation and force through worse terms and conditions and pensions for their members.

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on the Underground, said: “Government cuts to its funding, together with a fall in passenger numbers since the Covid pandemic, have led to a financial crisis at TfL.

“Management and government now want to plug that funding gap by slashing staff pensions and tearing up our agreed working conditions. But this ballot result shows that our Tube train drivers aren’t prepared to let them get away with it.”

He added: “Management should be in no doubt that if they try to force through changes to our agreements, working conditions, or pensions, there will be hard-hitting and sustained industrial action across London Underground.

“Our members showed huge courage and determination in keeping Underground services operating throughout the pandemic. They do not deserve to be treated like this and are determined – as this vote shows – to protect their working conditions and pensions.”

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: “The funding gap on the Underground is not the fault of the men and women who, every day, help passengers move around the capital.

“So there is no reason why the terms on which they are employed should be ripped up. Pensions, for which we pay, are deferred wages. And we are not prepared to have our pensions looted.”

Mr Whelan has called on Boris Johnson to “step up and do the right thing to help keep the capital moving” by increasing funding for TfL.

When are they striking?

A date for the industrial action has not been announced but it is understood that strikes could affect the entire Underground network.

ASLEF said there would be “hard-hitting and sustained industrial action across London Underground”.

What have the Government and Sadiq Khan said?

Neither Sadiq Khan nor the government have commented on this round of tube strikes.

A TfL spokesperson said: “This mandate relates to ongoing discussions with our trade unions.

“We urge Aslef to continue working with us to resolve these matters without having to resort to industrial action.”

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said it shares the same concerns and “preparations are well advanced” in putting the strike to a vote.

“We have the same concerns as Aslef and we are also preparing to ballot for industrial action over the same issues,” a spokesperson said.

“Nobody should be under any illusions at the determination of London’s tube unions to stop this attack on our members pensions, jobs and working conditions.

“The outcome that the government is looking for is a savage attack on pensions of our members and our accrued benefits.

“That is something we would resist with every tool at our disposal.”

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