London Tube strike: Passengers warned of ‘severe’ disruption on Underground from Friday

·5-min read
London Tube strike: Passengers warned of ‘severe’ disruption on Underground from Friday

Passengers have been warned to expect “severe disruption” on the Tube from Friday as a series of rolling strikes in the run-up to Christmas were set to go ahead.

The RMT action is due to start with a 24-hour walkout from 4.30am on Friday on five lines – the Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee.

On Monday afternoon the RMT confirmed the strikes were going ahead.

Transport for London said this could mean a “significantly reduced service on these lines all day with little or no service in places”.

The RMT said London Underground bosses had “refused point blank to consider the serious grievances at the heart of the dispute” and were only interested in “cutting costs regardless of the impact on staff and the services they operate”.

There is also expected to be a knock-on impact on the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, which are not facing strike action, as passengers seek alternative routes.

The protest centres on the staff rotas being used to restart the Night Tube. It is due to resume services late on Saturday night and into Sunday morning on two lines, the Victoria and Central.

TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan say they are “confident” of being able to restart the through-the-night services but admit they may be able to run fewer Night Tube trains than hoped.

The RMT action would also bring the same five lines to another 24-hour standstill on December 18 – the final Saturday before Christmas.

Proposed Strike Times

  • 4.30am 26 November – 4.29am 27 November (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria)

  • 8.30pm 27 November – 4.29am 28 November (Central & Victoria)

  • 8.30pm 3 December – 4.29am 4 December (Central & Victoria)

  • 8.30pm 4 December – 4.29am 5 December (Central & Victoria)

  • 8.30pm 10 December – 4.29am 11 December (Central & Victoria)

  • 8.30pm 11 December – 4.29am 12 December (Central & Victoria)

  • 8.30pm 17 December – 4.29am 18 December (Central & Victoria)

  • 4.30am 18 December – 4.29am 19 December (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria)

In addition, there would also be action on the Central and Victoria lines from 8.30pm to 4.30am on each of the intervening Saturdays and Sundays between this weekend and December 18.

TfL says these lines are likely to be severely disrupted from 7pm each weekend – a major blow for pre-Christmas revellers.

Talks between TfL and the RMT in a bid to avert strike action are said to be ongoing but no breakthrough has been achieved – prompting Monday’s warning to passengers from TfL.

TfL described the strike as “unnecessary” and called on the RMT to back down. It says all other Tube unions agreed in May to the change in the rosters, which came after 200 Night Tube staff were integrated into TfL’s “day Tube” workforce.

But the RMT says the changes have resulted in “unacceptable and intolerable demands” on its members and their work-life balance.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks to resolve this dispute but it is clear that LU 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.

“We will take no lectures from LU on safety as no one has worked harder to ensure a safe environment for women on London Underground than the RMT. While Tube bosses have axed staff and left stations routinely unstaffed, with all of the obvious risks, we have campaigned relentlessly for the front line, physical ‎presence of visible staff on stations and platforms. LU have ignored us as cuts come first.

"We are now being repaid by the imposition of working arrangements that would wreck the work-life balance of our members. No one should underestimate the anger this issue has generated amongst drivers.

“All of this 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.

“RMT has supported the introduction of the Night Tube but we know full well that prior to its suspension during the pandemic it was a magnet for violent, abusive and anti-social behaviour and trying to run it on the cheap will make that situation even worse.

“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.”

TfL says drivers will have to work about four Night Tube shifts a year.

Services on the morning of Saturday November 27 and Sunday December 19 may also be disrupted.

More than 150,000 people had signed a petition calling for the reintroduction of the Night Tube to make it safer for women to get home late at night.

Nick Dent, director of London Underground customer operations, said: “At such a pivotal time for the capital’s recovery, we are hugely disappointed that the RMT is threatening London with this unnecessary action.

“The return of Night Tube is a hugely significant moment for the night-time economy and for Londoners travelling late at night who will have improved journey times and an additional safe travel option. We have been meeting with the RMT for a number of months through ACAS to try and resolve their issues and we remain open to talking further.”

TfL said Night Tube drivers were offered the opportunity to join the full-time driver pool on a permanent basis, with Night Tube duties spread across all drivers.

It said a number of drivers have been able to stay part-time at their own request, with some of them moving to part-time positions during the day service to help balance their work and personal lives.

“No Tube driver has lost their job or will lose their job as a result of these changes, nor has any driver been forced to switch to part- or full-time work if they do not want to,” TfL said.

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