Tube strikes: Last ditch talks as TfL warns of 'severe disruption'

29 July 2021, 13:49 | Updated: 2 August 2021, 11:38

Commuters are likely to face disruption if the strike goes ahead.
Commuters are likely to face disruption if the strike goes ahead. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Last-ditch talks are under way in a bid to avert strikes by London Underground drivers which are set to go ahead this week.

The action would mean all tube lines will have to run a significantly reduced service at some times and not run at others, TfL explained.

Travellers have been urged to complete their journeys by 1pm on the first two strike days next week, in order to avoid problems.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are set to carry out 24-hour walkouts, starting on Tuesday, in a row over the grade of Night Tube driver.

Transport for London has warned of disruption to services if the strikes go ahead.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said on Monday: "We believe that there is a deal to be done which recognises the work-life balance and job security of our members, and we are entering the reconvened talks this morning in a positive frame of mind, and we take it that LU management also will be up for a constructive solution to this dispute.

"RMT's executive has been put on stand-by for any developments emerging from the talks later today."

When would the tube strike take place?

The first two strike days for tube drivers are planned for August 3 and 5 between midday and midnight the following days.

Action will then take place on August 24 and 26 across the same time frame.

It comes as London Underground said it had made changes to driver rosters in an attempt to maintain a regular service.

It had been in "extensive consultation" about upcoming changes for months, reaching an agreement with other recognised unions, TfL said.

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However, when making the strike announcement, RMT said: "London Underground's proposals to rip up an agreement that protects 3,000 tube drivers' work life balance has caused uproar in the depots 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."

Read more: Tube lines closed and train services cut due to staff self-isolating

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Richard Jones, Head of Network Operations for London Underground, said: "The changes to how we roster our drivers to continue to provide a regular tube service and create more flexibility for our staff have not resulted in any job losses.  

"Our drivers have been vital in keeping the tube running during the pandemic, ensuring that key workers could move around the city during the lockdowns and helping fuel London's recovery in more recent weeks.

"This new arrangement means that all drivers have been given the opportunity for full-time work and long-term job certainty, while Londoners can continue to rely on the regularity of tube services. 

"These changes will allow us to operate both day-to-day tube services and Night Tube more efficiently.

"It is extremely disappointing that the RMT has decided to announce strike action.

"I urge them to withdraw this action and to return to discussions with us to avoid this unnecessary disruption to Londoners going about their daily lives."

The strike comes as TfL is already facing staff shortages due to Covid-related self-isolation.

Further information and updates on the strike will be available on the TfL website.