Will Next Week’s Tube Strike Go Ahead?

Photo by Ian Wylie

Photo by Ian Wylie

Commuters will face a further four days of disruption if next week’s planned tube strikes go ahead.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite unions are engaged in an ongoing dispute with London Underground over plans for night tube services.

The first 24 hour strike is set to run from 9pm on Tuesday 25 August, and the second from 9pm on Thursday 27 August. With services scheduled to be run down from 4.30pm onwards on Monday, commuters could find severe restrictions on the tube next week.

The drivers’ union, ASLEF, is not taking part in the latest strikes. Tube blogger ASLEF Shrugged explains why here, but it essentially boils down to the fact that LU has agreed that the night tube won’t be introduced without an agreement with the union so they have no reason to strike. Furthermore, since ASLEF only represents train drivers and their concerns are (currently) being addressed, it’s up to the RMT, TSSA and Unite to negotiate on behalf of their non-driving members.

The RMT has issued a series of demands, including a 32 hour, four day week and no night tube duties, guaranteed above-inflation pay rises and bonuses for workers, and rehiring of staff for back office jobs. TfL warned that the union’s demands could result in a 6.5% fare increase for passengers. LU’s chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said after the previous strike:

“Yesterday, however, and having previously argued that it was ‘not about money’, the RMT leadership made further demands for unaffordable pay rises and the hiring of even more staff – including the reversal of the modernisation of customer service in LU stations.

“New rosters were never going to be ‘imposed’ – we shared them with staff for consultation and so they can see for themselves how the Night Tube will affect them. Staff will still be able to swap shifts around so that they can work at the times which best suit them.

“Our pay offer is fair and realistic, including an above-inflation increase this year, inflation protected increases in the next two years and a range of bonus payments for the Night Tube.”

As well as the two strikes next week, the RMT is also planning a 24 hour walkout on First Great Western overground services on Sunday and a 72 hour strike over the bank holiday weekend.

London Mayor Boris Johnson appeared to suggest that the night tube may be delayed, following the last strikes on 7 July and 5 August, but this has yet to be confirmed.

The big question is whether next week’s strikes will go ahead. The RMT is insistent that they will (though that’s to be expected) and commuters will find out on Monday. If the night tube is confirmed to be delayed, it’s likely the strikes will be called off, but with both sides engaging in a battle of brinkmanship, if that does happen, it’ll probably be an eleventh hour job.

TfL has issued a statement reminding commuters that the DLR, river boats, London Overground, TfL Rail, tram, Emirates Air Line and Santander Cycles Hire will all operate as normal.

Talks between the unions and London Underground continue today at conciliation service ACAS.

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