Over the next few weeks, there’s going to be a cluster of strikes on the London Underground.

Potential strike action on the Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines will affect services, with disruption expected across several days.

Central and Waterloo & City lines

The strike action on the Central and Waterloo & City lines would mean little or no service on those lines from 9pm on Friday 21 December until Night Tube on Saturday 22 December. This also means that there would be no Night Tube service on the Central line at all on Friday night.

TfL says that the Central line dispute concerns a driver who failed an unannounced drugs test prior to starting their shift.

A follow up test showed 19ng/mL of a cannabinoid substance. Although the standard for failure in a urine test is 50ng/mL, it’s just 15ng/mL in a confirmation test using more accurate gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (if that is what was used in this situation).

The RMT says the that the driver in question had recent eaten hemp supplements explaining the result. Although it is indeed possible to fail a drugs test for cannabis by eating hemp, it typically requires the person to have eaten considerably more than is usual.

Bakerloo line

The action on the Bakerloo line would affect stations on the southern part of the line on Boxing Day, Wednesday 26 December. If the strike goes ahead, Elephant & Castle, Lambeth North, Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus stations may have to close at short notice, however the rest of the line will run a normal service.

The dispute on the Bakerloo line is due to union claims that London Underground is breaking agreements relating to staffing levels on the line. This follows a commitment made to resolve previous strike action in January 2017. The RMT argues that London Underground is not providing sufficient staff to manage work shifts.

If not resolved, another strike on the Bakerloo line is pencilled in for Monday 14th January 2019.


There’s also another back-office strike being carried out by staff at the Track Access Control Centre on New Years Eve, over the dismissal of a member of staff, although that is unlikely to affect services unless there’s a problem with the line, in which case it could extend the delay being caused.

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19 comments on “Strikes on the London Underground over the Christmas
  1. Colin says:

    My sympathy for tube drivers ran out many, many years ago. Vastly overpaid and hold the capital to ransome at the drop of a hat.
    System should be fully automated. It is on many lines. The drivers are just there to look important and open the doors.

    • Jon Jones says:

      If you read Ian’s post the other day about driver pay and followed the links, you’ll see what driverless trains won’t ease the pain of tube workers striking.

    • Shamonthedon says:

      Vastly overpaid? Compared to what. The only metric that matters is a comparison with other train drivers in which case your argument is nonsensical. As for full automation..you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

  2. Dave says:

    If unions want to be guardians of safety, make them liable in the event of an accident.

  3. Ian Cooper says:

    another strike against the public who pay their wages sack then

  4. Phil Gladman says:

    Why on earth can the RMT sanction a strike over ONE person, yes ONE person being caught on an unannounced drugs test. If people got prior warning they would stop smoking. There’s a reason the tests are unannounced and this driver’s been caught. TFL should sack the driver if he’s not following the rules of employment or is drug taking alright on the tubes? It’s about time the left wing RMT thought about the masses and not the few…

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      There are a lot more issues than the driver although most of those have now been resolved between ASLEF and management. RMT didn’t “sanction” a strike, the local branches asked for a ballot and the RMT members voted for a strike.

      The driver insists he hadn’t been taking drugs and asked for a third test after the first two. In my 20 years of working on the Tube I’ve never heard of anyone asking for a third test.

  5. Andrew Gwilt says:

    More tube strikes could also happen again next year because of the drivers haven’t been paid enough which is all RMT and TfL fault.

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      In my 20 years of working for London Underground there has never been a strike over pay.

      The majority of drivers are ASLEF members and it is they, not RMT, that lead negotiations over pay, conditions and everything else.

  6. Mike says:

    To prevent further strikes, the Government must recognise public transport as an essential service, just like policing and A&E.

    • Shamonthedon says:

      Why should they. Workers have the right to withdraw their labour or what other powers do they have except by voting with their feet.

  7. Nigel says:

    RMT defending the guilty again. Happens all the time.

  8. Barbara Snowden says:

    I don’t really feel any sympathy for the underground train drivers. Perhaps they would like to do my job as a Care Assistant at £8.00 an hour, not getting every Christmas off and having to book all the annual leave at one time at the beginning of November!! What would they do if Care assistants decided to go on strike for better pay and the vulnerable were not looked after? Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Not many Care assistants go on strike, but are paid a low pay for a job that a lot of people don’t want to do. Cleaning up after the elderly, their poo, vomit and giving them personal care. Any takers?

    • Shamonthedon says:

      Why are they to blame for your predicament? Join a union, agitate for better terms and conditions and support your colleagues. Lobby the government to increase funding into the care sector instead of it being a race to the bottom. That’s what the tube staff do and fair play to them. Alternatively train as a driver if you feel youre not getting a fair shake.

  9. ASLEF shrugged says:

    On the Bakerloo Line every station south of Queen’s Park is a “Section 12” with minimum staffing levels and could be closed if there aren’t enough staff. The staff at Paddington, Baker Street, Embankment and Waterloo are not “Bakerloo Line” so those stations will be open.

  10. Jo says:

    As someone who has believed in Unions plus been a union rep for many years i am absolutely disgusted at this strike. He failed. Simple. How many drivers actually voted out of hiw many members? Cases like this are what give unions bad press and i suspect the rep supporting this is just on an ego trip.

    • ASLEF shrugged says:

      RMT has 222 members that are Central Line drivers, 175 voted to strike (79%, well above the governments 51% requirement), 6 voted against strike action, 41 did not vote.

      There are also 322 ASLEF members on the Central Line who may or may not choose to cross RMT’s picket line.

  11. Melvyn says:

    Strikes on Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo and City Line have been called off today .

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