London Tube drivers are set to go on strike from Friday, causing travel chaos for millions of commuters and Christmas shoppers.
Members of the RMT union are set to begin a series of 24-hour walkouts tomorrow over changes to staff rotas to restart the Night Tube after talks between TfL and union bosses broke down.
The Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines will be brought to a standstill on Friday, causing further disruption for the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
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 – the last Saturday before Christmas.
TfL says these lines are likely to be severely disrupted from 7pm each weekend in a major blow for December revellers.
A TfL source told the London Evening Standard this morning that ‘not a huge amount has developed’ since the industrial action was announced, but that TfL ‘remains open to talks’ with RMT.
Passengers leave a busy underground train still wearing their facemasks in London
What Tube lines will be affected and why are drivers going on strike?
RMT is set to begin a 24-hour walkout on the five tube lines from 4.30am on Friday, November 26.
What Tube lines will be affected?
TfL said the Tube lines will are due to be affected are:
- 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)
Why are Tube drivers striking?
TfL announced that London’s Night Tube service is set to resume from November 27 on the Victoria and Central lines.
The east-west Central Line and north-south Victoria Lines were set to operate overnight on Fridays and Saturdays each week.
The RMT says the rota changes have resulted in ‘unacceptable and intolerable demands’ on its members and their work-life balance.
Underground drivers are protesting over staff rotas to restart the Night Tube, which is due to resume services late on Saturday night and into Sunday morning on the Victoria and Central lines.
TfL insists all other Tube unions agreed in May to the change in the rotas, which came after 200 Night Tube staff were integrated into TfL’s ‘day Tube’ workforce, and called the strike action ‘unnecessary’.
But RMT general secretary Mick Lynch accused Tube bosses of ‘refusing point blank to consider the serious grievances at the heart of the dispute’, but added that the union also ‘remains open for talks’.
The union says the changes have resulted in ‘unacceptable and intolerable demands’ on its members.
Similar strikes were planned during the summer over the same issue, which were called off after ‘last-ditch’ talks with TfL.
Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL are ‘confident’ of being able to restart the night services but said they may be able to run fewer Tube trains than hoped.
TfL could yet face more disruption over Christmas as the ASLEF union threatens its members could strike over changes to TfL’s pension schemes.
TfL is required to conduct a review of its pension schemes as a condition of the funding deal agreed with the Government.
ASLEF’s Tube organiser Finn Brennan said there will be ‘hard-hitting and sustained industrial action across London Underground’ if changes are forced through, though no dates have been confirmed.
Sir Brendan Barber, a former TUC general secretary and current head of ACAS, has been appointed to lead a ‘truly independent’ review of TfL’s pensions.
TfL commissioner Andy Byford said there is ‘no predetermined outcome’ of the review and has said ‘we’ll report back in due course’.
In a statement today, Mr Lynch said: ‘This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success.
‘Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.
‘We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off 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.
‘This strike action, and it’s serious consequences in the run up to Christmas, 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.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, meeting members of the Battersea Power Station Community Choir, at newly opened Battersea Power Station London Underground station, south London
‘We warned months ago that slashing two hundred 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 even at this late stage.’
He said on Monday: ‘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.
‘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.’
TfL have been contacted for comment.