Tube Strike Latest: Drivers Sent Home While Unions Accuse Mayor Of ‘Playing Politics’

Photo by EZDT

Photo by EZDT

There’s another 24 hour tube strike planned for 5 August, and it’s all gone a bit quiet in the last couple of days.

As with the strike in July, all three transport unions – the TSSA, RMT and ASLEF, plus station workers belonging to the Unite union – have voted to walk out starting on the evening of 5 August. This means that like the previous strike, there will be no tubes at all on Thursday 6 August.

Earlier in the week, the RMT accused London Underground (LU) of breaching safety conditions, which led to drivers in the RMT and ASLEF unions refusing to take out trains they say had not had proper safety checks. LU responded by sending home seven drivers without pay.

The reasons behind the strike include rotas for the new night tube service, pay and conditions, work-life balance for those on night shifts and ticket office closures. Tube blogger ASLEF Shrugged says the unions wanted to discuss the issues separately but LU insisted on negotiating them together. With talks seemingly as a deadlock (though apparently at least continuing to take place) and relationships deteriorating between LU and the unions, it’s not looking too hopeful that the strike will be called off.

RMT general secretary Mick cash has called on LU to postpone the launch of the night tube, which would be something of an embarrassing climbdown for tube bosses after the recent fanfare over the announcements of its impending arrival in September. TSSA leader Manuel Cortes London accused London Mayor Boris Johnson of ‘playing politics’ over the dispute:

“This dispute is being engineered by the Mayor from City Hall. He has tied the hands of his negotiating team who are unable to make a new offer without his say so.

“By allowing next week’s strike to go ahead, he will have an ideal excuse for delaying the start of the Night Tube. He will also increase his standing with the Tory right ahead of their conference in October by claiming he is taking on the rail unions.”

Cyclists will be pleased to learn that Evans Cycles will offer free bike checks and puncture repairs from 3-7 August to help commuters beat the strike on two wheels.

Update 1 August: ASLEF Shrugged has posted that LU has made what they describe as a ‘full and final offer’ of 2%, which is made up of a 1% rise and a bonus for workers on night tube lines. AS also notes that LU have included an increase from three to seven ‘special events’ (which effectively means the tube will run overnight, like for New Year’s Eve. His prediction is that the offer won’t be accepted and the strikes will go ahead.

Update 3 August: The tube strike is set to go ahead after the unions rejected LU’s pay offer. As with the previous strike, TfL has advised that tube services will stop running at 6.30pm on Wednesday and no services on Thursday. Expect trains to be busy from 4.30pm onwards as people leave work early to complete their journeys before 6.30. Buses, the Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and river services will be unaffected.

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