24 Aug 2015

Unions suspend London Tube strikes

Three unions suspend planned strikes on London Underground, with Unite calling the move a “gesture of goodwill”.

Britain’s biggest union, Unite, as well as the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and the Transport Salaried Staff Association are in a dispute with London Underground over pay and conditions on a new night time service.

The unions were intending to stage two, 24-hour walkouts on Tuesday and Thursday this week. The Night Tube was due to start at weekends from 12 September.

But the unions have said they will take further industrial action on 8 and 10 September if “significant progress” is not made in negotiations.

‘Sticking points’

On Monday Unite said talks with London Underground were continuing in a “positive manner”.

Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “There are still some remaining sticking points, but we feel sufficient progress has been made to suspend industrial action as an act of goodwill.

“We will continue to approach talks with London Underground in a positive manner. We trust that London Underground management seize this opportunity to reach a deal that fully addresses our members’ concerns and secures a successful future for night running on the tube.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our dispute is not with the working class of London and RMT is not opposed to Night Tube providing it is introduced properly with safe and robust staffing arrangements which recognise the substantial extra pressures that this expansion will inevitably create.”

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said TSSA leader Manuel Cortes. “A number of issues need to be resolved before our dispute is finally settled.”

The drivers’ union, Aslef, had already decided not to strike.

‘Out of pocket’

The dispute over the Night Tube has been an acrimonious one, with previous walkouts causing travel chaos in July and earlier this month.

A war of words has seen Boris Johnson and union leaders trading criticism that the other is “playing politics” – Mr Johnson in relation to his party leadership aspirations and the unions because of Labour’s general election defeat.

Labour’s London Assembly transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross said Mayor Boris Johnson should now speak with the unions and help draw the dispute to a close.

“Londoners will remember that Boris Johnson was quick to claim the credit when announcing the Night Tube, but the second things got tricky he was nowhere to be seen.

“There are now less than three weeks to go until the Night Tube is due to start. The mayor needs to be straight with Londoners if that date is no longer viable, as further uncertainty could well mean businesses who are expecting the night Tube to be running for the Rugby World Cup are left out of pocket.”