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.