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London Tube strike: Second round to go ahead after talks break down

·3-min read
London Tube strike: Second round to go ahead after talks break down

Commuters should expect further travel chaos on Friday after the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union confirmed the next round of Tube strikes are to go ahead.

The strike action will affect services on the Victoria and Central lines from 7pm to 4.29am on both Friday and Saturday, with TfL warning of “severe disruption”.

It follows an announcement from TfL in October that Night Tube services on the Central and Victoria line would resume for the first time in 20 months.

RMT claims the reintroduction of the Night Tube “will wreck the work-life balance” of its workers.

London Underground bosses rejected calls from the RMT to hire dedicated Night Tube drivers to fill in the shifts during discussions this week.

Following the talks, the union said it has “become clear the drive from tube bosses is all about cutting costs regardless of the impact on staff and the services they operate”.

TfL said there was potential for “little or no service” on the Victoria and Central lines for the next three weekends.

Almost 30,000 passengers used the Night Tube when it resumed last weekend. Transport for London said passenger numbers over night last Saturday were about a third of pre-pandemic levels.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: "We are angry and disappointed that the tube management have refused to move forward based on genuine and realistic proposals that could have enabled us to recommend the suspension of the planned action. As a result the strike [on Friday] goes ahead.

"The issue at the heart of the dispute is that the dedicated Night Tube driver grade, which was popular with women and those with caring responsibilities, an‎d which the union fought to get written in to the original Night Tube agreement, has been ripped up with complete disregard for the staff themselves.

"We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is increasingly clear that LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and appear to have no interest whatsoever in the well being of their staff or the service to passengers.

“The union remains available for further talks even at this late stage and it’s time for the Mayor to stop siding with the management against the union and start using his offices to push for a resolution. “

Nick Dent, London Underground’s director of customer operations, said: “We’re urging Night Tube customers to check before they travel this weekend ahead of more disruptive RMT strike action on the Central and Victoria lines.

“While I’m pleased we managed to run a safe and regular service on the Night Tube last weekend despite strike action, there is still a chance of severe disruption this weekend and up to Christmas.

“We’ve been in talks with the RMT for months to try and avoid this needless strike action. I apologise to customers for the disruption they may face and urge the RMT to continue talks with us, rather than threatening London with further strikes at a crucial time for its recovery.”

A TfL spokesman said: “No drivers have been forced to switch to part- or full-time work if they do not want to. Since August when the changes came in, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of our female Night Tube operators remain part-time; six remain on night shifts only and 11 have moved to part-time day shifts, which they couldn’t do before Grade Consolidation.

“The figure for men remaining part-time is 16 per cent with eight remaining on night shifts and 16 moving to part-time day shifts. This shows the appetite for full-time work from drivers previously on Night Tube contracts.”

Passengers are advised to check their routes before they travel.

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