The RMT union has announced a tube strike for two dates at the beginning of next month in a dispute over jobs and pensions.
The RMT says that it will be taking strike action next month over “LU’s continuing refusal to give assurances on jobs, pensions and working conditions in the midst of an on-going financial crisis driven by central Government”
The RMT strike covers all staff who are members of the RMT, so that’s drivers and station staff, which could lead to stations being closed as well as lines having to operate with fewer trains.
The strike will last all day on Tuesday 1st March and Thursday 3rd March 2022. Although there won’t be a strike on the Wednesday, it’s likely that there will be some disruption in the early morning.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Our members will be taking strike action next month because a financial crisis at LUL has been deliberately engineered by the Government to drive a cuts’ agenda which would savage jobs, services, safety and threaten their working conditions and pensions.”
Andy Lord, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the RMT has today announced strike action, as no proposals have been tabled on pensions or terms and conditions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs as a result of the proposals we have set out. The devastating impact of the pandemic on TfL finances has made a programme of change urgently necessary and we need the RMT to work with us, rather than disrupting London’s recovery. We’re urging them to do the right thing for London, talk to us and call off this unnecessary action.”
TfL hasn’t announced any job cuts yet, by means of redundancies, but it is cutting by not replacing staff who leave.
TfL’s current proposal is to not recruit around 250 Customer Services vacancies that are currently unfilled, as well as placing controls on future recruitment, with the aim of reducing posts by a further 250-350 as people retire or move on from TfL. This would mean a gradual reduction of around 500-600 posts compared to pre-pandemic staffing levels – although the precise number is still to be agreed upon with staff and unions.
That would still leave around 4,500 staff across the London Underground.
The difficulty that TfL faces is that it is unable to offer the guarantees that the RMT is seeking until it knows what its funding settlement will be like, and to a degree, how soon travel will recover to a level that doesn’t require job cuts due to a lack of demand for the services. In addition, some of the changes the RMT objects to were imposed on TfL as a condition of the funding package, such as the pensions review, so it’s not possible for TfL to offer guarantees of the sort the RMT is seeking at the moment.
TfL’s current funding deal expires tonight, and TfL is still in discussions about what sort of funding package it will receive. Depending on how the new deal is worded, if there’s no wiggle room for TfL to offer the guarantees the union is demanding, there could be a summer of disruption on the tubes.
Although 94% of RMT members who responded to the ballot voted in favour of strike action (4,900), that was fewer than half of all RMT members on the London Underground (10,084).