The RMT’s long-running campaign against changes to Night Tube driver rosters will continue tonight with the first of a new round of strikes.

TfL is warning that there could be “severe disruption” on both the Central and Victoria lines on Friday and Saturday’s from around 7pm every week until the dispute is ended.

The RMT has taken this action over new rosters, which have been agreed upon by the other recognised union and were introduced for Tube drivers in August. Although the changes would lead to RMT drivers being asked to work up to four night shifts a year, TfL says that night shifts can be swapped with colleagues for duties at other times of day, although that would be dependent on there being other staff willing to work the shift.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said, “If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.”

The strikes started last month, and TfL was able to run a reliable Night Tube service on the Victoria and Central lines, with a full Victoria line service running throughout the majority of the overnight action. However, the impact of the strike action depends on the number of drivers booking on each weekend, so it could be more severe on some weekends than others.

Andy Lord, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “We’re disappointed that, once again, the RMT is continuing to push for strike action that is likely to cause further unnecessary disruption. We’re calling on the RMT to join us for talks so we can work together to resolve this dispute around roster changes, which mean no job losses and greater flexibility for drivers.

The strike affects train drivers only and stations will remain fully staffed throughout the action.

The heart of the dispute was a decision to merge the part-time Night Tube drivers with the main pool of drivers, enabling the part-time drivers to upgrade to full-time if they wanted. This merger resulted in 200 tube driver vacancies then not needing to be filled, and the existing tube drivers being asked to work occasional night shifts.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said that “The reopening of the Night Tube has been agreed by the other recognised union, and TfL have repeatedly made clear they are willing to talk with the RMT through conciliation service ACAS on this issue. I urge the RMT to come back to the table and prevent more months of turmoil for Londoners.”

Night services on London Overground will run as planned on Friday and Saturday nights between Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate.

The union has made it clear that the strike mandate extends to other lines and will consider broadening the action if the Night Tube is restored to the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines later this year.

The ballot to continue the Night Tube dispute was 521 in favour of strikes vs 47 against, out of 1,127 drivers entitled to vote.

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5 comments
  1. ChrisC says:

    “RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said, “If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.” ”

    What a load of nonsense.

    4 night shifts a year is hardly a major imposition and even less so when you can swap them with a colleague and if you can’t then I’m afraid you need to suck it up.

    Family friendly working practices aren’t always possible especially when you are providing an essential public service.

  2. Mike Oxlong says:

    The sensible approach would be If TFL had kept the dedicated night tube drivers then we wouldn’t be talking about this and phase in first a fully automated night service when the network is much quieter and then during the day.

    • ChrisC says:

      Fully automated service would cost billions and god knows how many years to install involving heaven knows how many line closures.

      As for your first point as I understand it the previously dedicated night drivers were made part of the normal rotas so they could drive during the day and cover covid absences and keep the service going.

      If TFL hadn’t done that you’d be screaming about TFL paying drivers to sit at home on their backsides and why weren’t they driving trains!

  3. MilesT says:

    It feels to me that there are nuances to each side’s negotiation position that aren’t being revealed.

    In short, why would I consider the RMT members to have a valid concern that management is not addressing?

    For instance: Will drivers have the right to request that the night shifts are taken together (i.e. having a work week of nights) or spaced out (one per quarter), beyond the “you can swap shifts if someone is willing to swap”.

    Presumably there is also elongated rest period between a day and a night shift (per legal requirements or longer).

    And what of a night pay premium?

    Beyond negotiating power through union membership (where the employer recognises multiple unions), how does the experience of days vs. nights experienced by tube workers differ from any other transport worker (other than some transport operators maintaining a dedicated night shift)

  4. Anthony Skinner says:

    I’m no expert here but the night tube only operates 2 nights a week, therefore it is not the same as the rest of the operating hours. You can’t have all nights one week and then all days another. I can see both arguments here, so ACAS is probably the best way to find a middle ground. It does however seem strange for familly friendly to be used as a pretext for people that can be asked to book on as early as 5 am and be booked off as late as 00:30 to be worried about!

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