Tube strike set to cause 'severe disruption' to passengers this weekend

3 December 2021, 16:00 | Updated: 4 December 2021, 09:10

Night Tube strikes will take place on two lines on Friday and Saturday
Night Tube strikes will take place on two lines on Friday and Saturday. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Londoners have been warned to expect "severe disruption" to travel on Friday and Saturday evening as Underground workers prepare for the second strike in under a month.

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Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will strike on Friday and Saturday evening for a total of eight hours, affecting the Night Tube on Central and Victoria lines.

It follows a dispute over staffing – despite London mayor Sadiq Khan only recently announcing the return of select Night Tube services.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the "working arrangements" would ruin the work-life balance of staff, after TfL previously axed dedicated Night Tube staff.

He added: "RMT supports the reintroduction of the Night Tube but we know full well that prior to its suspension during the pandemic it was a magnet for violent, abusive and anti-social behaviour.

"We warned months ago that slashing 200 Night Tube train driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and LU need to start facing up to that reality."

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TfL said drivers will only work four nights a year, adding that new rosters have been agreed by other unions.

Nick Dent, London Underground's director of customer operations, said: "We're urging Night Tube customers to check before they travel this weekend ahead of more disruptive RMT strike action on the Central and Victoria lines.

"While I'm pleased we managed to run a safe and regular service on the Night Tube last weekend despite strike action, there is still a chance of severe disruption this weekend and up to Christmas.

"We've been in talks with the RMT for months to try and avoid this needless strike action.

"I apologise to customers for the disruption they may face and urge the RMT to continue talks with us, rather than threatening London with further strikes at a crucial time for its recovery."

Transport for London said no drivers have been forced to switch to part or full-time work if they do not want to.

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A statement said: "Since August when the changes came in, more than a quarter of our female Night Tube operators remain part-time, six remain on night shifts only and 11 have moved to part-time day shifts, which they couldn't do before grade consolidation.

"The figure for men remaining part-time is 16%, with eight remaining on night shifts and 16 moving to part-time day shifts.

"This shows the appetite for full-time work from drivers previously on Night Tube contracts."

Further strikes are planned in the run-up to Christmas.

But The Mayor of London said the Night Tube is vital for keeping women and girls safe in the capital, and said he was "absolutely frustrated and annoyed" the strike is going ahead.

Sadiq Khan said: "The Night Tube is crucial, not just for our economy, not just for our night time economy, but for women and girls to feel safer going out and about our city.

Why are women and girls having to impose curfews on themselves at night time?"And the Night Tube is one way to make women and girls feel safer."

He added that the night time economy "desperately" needed people to return to London's streets at night.