Tube strike: it’s about jobs and safety, not money

LONDON Underground workers staged another 48- hour strike this week in protest at plans to run the trains all night on some lines at weekends.

RMT, Aslef, TSSA and Unite rejected Management’s latest offer of increased pay and bonuses because it ignored the unions’ demands on health and safety, staffing and shift patterns.

Aslef accused London Underground of being completely inflexible over terms and conditions for the Night Tube, leaving it with no other choice than to press ahead with the walkout.

Aslef officer Finn Brennan said: “We genuinely regret the disruption this will cause, but the blame for this must rest with the pig-headed determination of the Mayor to insist on a September 12 launch of Night Tube instead of allowing more time for a negotiated settlement to be reached.”

On Monday RMT confirmed that it had rejected the new offer from London Underground at a meeting at the arbitration service ACAS that afternoon.

RMT reps were furious when they examined the details only to find that they were a re-hash of previous plans that would continue along the course of smashing up long-standing agreements and destroying work/life balance in the interests of delivering the Mayor’s ill-conceived Night Tube vanity project.

RMT will now launch a renewed campaign to inform the public of the heavy price that the millions of weekday commuters, paying thousands of pounds of year, will be paying in terms of safety, reliability and quality in order to get a few thousand revellers home from central London in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning.

The union has also questioned the viability of getting the new services running for the 12th September start date without any adequate risk assessments, a complete ignorance of the consequence of losing the weekend engineering and maintenance slots and without any agreement in place on staffing arrangements.

RMT is warning that every Monday morning, when the volume passengers that pay for the Underground head back to work, is going to be a potential nightmare as the consequences of running flat out for nearly three days without a break become only too clear — all in order to deliver Boris Johnson’s legacy scheme that was cooked up on the back on an envelope without any understanding of how the railway runs in reality.

RMT is calling for an immediate and indefinite suspension of the Night Tube project warning that is so fundamentally flawed from top to bottom it risks wrecking expensive infrastructure, compromising staff and passenger safety and leaving essential safety critical engineering and maintenance works on the shelf in a move that will lead to breakdowns and disruption on an unprecedented scale.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members have made it clear that the latest offer from London Underground is merely a rehash of the previous package and does nothing to tackle the core issue which revolves around staff being at the beck and call of management to be hauled in during their free time to try and plug the staffing gaps which riddle the Mayor’s Night Tube vanity project.

“RMT is also deeply concerned that the talks are being conducted by people who have no background on the tube and no understanding of how processes and logistics work.

“That is deeply worrying and a major departure from when the combine was managed by people with a deep-seated knowledge of the railway. That is a major barrier to progress in the talks and one that we hope can now be cleared.

“The Night Tube plan has been botched from the off. The basics haven’t been done and those who will pay for this shambles will not only be our members but the London daily travelling public who cough up a fortune and who will find their safety and the reliability of the service compromised from 12th September onwards.”

A spokesperson for one of the four unions warned that the union leaders have met to discuss options for further action after this week’s strike.

TSSA Press Officer Tom Condon said that although there was “nothing scheduled,” the strikes were “on-going”.

Condon said that although he could not speak for the other unions, he expected subsequent strikes “were they to go ahead” would be on a similar scale to July and 5th August.