London Underground drivers to stage 24-hour walk outs over night Tube dispute

13 July 2021, 19:22

Several dates have been set out for Tube driver walk outs
Several dates have been set out for Tube driver walk outs. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

London Underground drivers are set to stage a number of 24-hour walk-outs in August as part of a dispute over the night Tube.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said there are plans for the night Tube driver grade to be abolished, threatening the loss of 200 jobs and staff work-life balance.

It has warned that by abolishing the grade, other drivers would have night driver duties imposed on them as well as additional weekend duties.

Its members will walk out for 24 hours from midday on August 3, 5, 24 and 26.

But London Underground insisted its changes will not result in job losses and it wants to ensure the capital has a "near-normal service".

Read more: Sadiq Khan: 'Not possible' to have Night Tube services back for lockdown end

It urged the RMT not to disrupt commuters at a "pivotal time" in the city's recovery from Covid-19 lockdowns.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "London Underground's proposals to rip up an agreement that protects 3,000 Tube drivers' work life balance has caused uproar amongst drivers.

"This breach of trust by an out-of-touch management abolishes the part-time jobs of workers, mainly women, who want them.

"This is the thanks that Tube drivers have been given for keeping the service running through the Covid pandemic.

"This is a blatant attempt to now use that pandemic to start bulldozing through a savage programme of cuts.

"The union remains available for talks."

Nick Dent, the director of customer operations for London Underground, said in a statement that "changes to how we roster roster our drivers to continue to provide a regular Tube service and create more flexibility for our staff will not result in any job losses".

He said part-time drivers played a "vital role in keeping the Tube running during the pandemic" and "giving them the option to become part of the wider driver workforce means that Londoners can continue to have certainty that a near-normal service will continue, while also giving drivers the opportunity for full-time work and long-term job certainty".

Sadiq Khan previously warned the night tube could not return in time for England's unlocking on July 19
Sadiq Khan previously warned the night tube could not return in time for England's unlocking on July 19. Picture: Alamy

He added: "We have engaged with our trade unions for some time on these changes, and have listened to their concerns.

"While we have been able to reach agreement with most of our trades unions, this has not been possible so far with the RMT.

"An agreement with all of our unions would be preferable, but it is vital that we make these changes so that we can continue to operate the level of service that London needs as the city continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are disappointed that the RMT has chosen to announce strike dates rather than continue to discuss how these changes can benefit its members, and I urge them to continue talking to us rather than disrupting Londoners during a pivotal time in the capital's recovery from the pandemic."