The RMT union has announced that members working on the Tube will hold two 24 hour strikes later this month to protest against what they claim is the unfair treatment of staff affected by the new Night Tube.
The new service is due to start on September 12th and will run on Friday nights and the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings on the following lines:
• Central line: trains will run between Ealing Broadway and Hainault;
• Jubilee line: trains will run on the entire line;
• Northern line: trains will run on the entire line except on the Mill Hill East and Bank branches;
• Piccadilly line: trains will run between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal 5;
• Victoria line: trains will run on the entire line.
Plans for the service were first unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson in November 2013 before securing agreement with Tube unions who say making existing staff work through the night would have a “detrimental” impact on their work-life balance.
The Unite, TSSA, ASLEF and RMT unions have rejected offers of more pay for affected staff, including bonuses for all workers and an extra £200 per Night Tube shift for drivers.
London Underground bosses claim they’ve worked to address concerns over work-life balance and insist drivers will receive “the same number of weekends off as they receive now.”
However the two sides have been unable to resolve their differences and passengers have experienced severe disruption as a result of strikes.
Drivers will stage two walk outs between 2100 hours on Tuesday 25th August 2015 and 2059 hours on Wednesday 26th and between 2100 hours on Thursday 27th August 2015 until 2059 hours on Friday 28th August 2015.
Members in other roles won’t report to work from 1830 hours on Tuesday 25th August 2015 until 1829 hours on Wednesday 26th August 2015 and again from 1830 hours on Thursday 27th August 2015 until 1829 hours on Friday 28th August 2015.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members the length and breadth of London Underground have made it clear that they are determined to protect their work/life balance and not fall into a trap where they will be forced to wreck their home lives in order to comply with the “rosters from hell” which have been drawn up to plug the staffing gaps in the Night Tube plans.
“Staff are angry that their grievances are being ignored and dismissed by both the Mayor and his officials and that there has been no substantial move as of today from London Underground to make progress towards a negotiated settlement.
“The Night Tube plan has been botched from the off. The basics haven’t been done and those who will pay for this shambles will not only be our members but the London daily travelling public who cough up a fortune and who will find their safety and the reliability of the service compromised from 12th September onwards.
“Running tube services with fatigued and burnt-out staff is a recipe for disaster.”
Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly, said it was now time for Mr Johnson to take a role in the negotiations with unions.
He commented: “With this disruptive dispute continuing to rumble on it’s time for the Mayor to get off the side-lines and to start actively engaging with staff concerns. Londoners want this dispute settled, fast. That’s only ever going to happen through negotiation. We need to see both sides seriously committing to talks to avoid further chaos for the capital’s commuters.
“It’s clear Boris Johnson wanted the Night Tube to be one of his key legacies as London Mayor but by rushing it through without proper planning, consultation or negotiation with staff his actions have led to one of the worst industrial disputes in years.
“It’s time for him to admit that this is a problem of his own creation and start taking steps to resolve this stalemate instead of just moaning to the media. I understand the Mayor has never met the trade union leadership, its time he did.”
Responding to news of the latest strikes, London Underground Chief Operating Officer, Steve Griffith said: “Our customers and London’s businesses want to see this dispute resolved and we call on the unions to engage in calm and realistic discussion with us to achieve that.
“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. They expect our customers to pick up a bill running into hundreds of millions of pounds for this through higher fares or by forcing us to cut back investment to improve Tube services in a rapidly growing city. No responsible management can give in to such demands.
“We have reiterated our intention to keep talking and listening and have shown flexibility by putting forward a very fair revised offer, which recognises the introduction of Night Tube services. Our offer guarantees the same number of weekends off as they have today, rewards our hard working staff and provides the work-life flexibility that we know is important.
“The Night Tube will run for two days a week, on Friday and Saturday nights, and on five of our eleven Tube lines – the Jubilee, Piccadilly, Central, Northern and Victoria lines. No one will be asked to work more hours than they do today, everybody remains entitled to two days off in seven, and annual leave entitlements are unchanged – 43 days for drivers and 52 days for station staff.
“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.
“To minimise the impact of Night Tube on shift patterns, we have recruited more than 500 extra staff – train operators, station, service control, engineering and maintenance staff. This means we can guarantee that drivers will work the same, or less, weekends than they do now and, after a short transition period, they will have a choice about whether they work Night Tube shifts or not.
“Crime on the Tube is at an all-time low and the largest proportion of our customers at night will be those travelling to and from work. However, safety is our number one priority and we have 100 extra British Transport Police on board to support us.
“Instead of yet more strike threats, we need level headed and sensible discussion on how to deliver a modern transport service for London, alongside fairly rewarding our hardworking staff and protecting their work-life balance. That deal needs to be affordable and sustainable – and certainly not be at the expense of massive fares rises or cuts to Tube improvements – and can only be agreed around a negotiating table, not through strike threats. We remain ready at all times to meet and negotiate such an agreement for the benefit of our staff, customers and London as a whole. We urge the unions to join us.”