Tube commuters face more delays as engineers begin industrial action

RMT union members start work-to-rule over 'unresolved breaches of agreed machineries and agreements'

Underground train tube London
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Tube strike called off after RMT hails 'progress'

9 October

A 48-hour Tube strike planned by London Understand staff has been called off after "substantial progress" in negotiations held at the conciliation service Acas.

Representatives from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Transport for London (TFL) had yesterday failed to reach agreement, but at lunchtime today the union said that it was calling off the strike.

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"RMT has been able to secure significant movement in three key areas which have allowed our executive to suspend both the action scheduled for next week and the on-going overtime ban," Mick Cash, the union's general secretary, said.

Tube of the future: unions 'alarmed' by new trains

"The substantial improvements we have agreed allow us to move forwards but the Union's core opposition to the austerity-led cuts on London Underground has not shifted an inch and we remain vigilant to further developments and their impact."

TFL has not yet responded to the breakthrough.

If the Tube strike had gone ahead, RMT members would have been instructed to walk out from 9pm on Tuesday 14 October until 8.59pm on Thursday 16 October.

The dispute is part of a long-running row over cuts and Tube ticket office closures. Speaking before the action was called off Cash said it was designed to force London Mayor Boris Johnson to instruct his senior officials to back away from their "toxic cuts package" and engage in "serious and meaningful" negotiations.

"The cuts, currently being bulldozed through, would de-staff whole areas of the tube system at a time of surging passenger demand and would make evacuation and other basic safety procedures a physical impossibility," he said. "The axing of ticket offices and station staffing grades would render the tube a no-go zone for many people with disabilities and for women travelling alone."

Transport for London chiefs had condemned the strike as "pointless" and said they expected to keep more than half of Tube services running and 80 per cent of stations open, as they did during the last RMT strike in April.

Tube strike: Central Line disrupted by walkout

22 August

Drivers on the London Underground's Central Line have walked out this morning in a dispute over working conditions.

There is currently no service through central London on the line. Trains are running between Leytonstone and Epping and between White City and Ealing Broadway, but with severe delays. The Waterloo and City Line is also suspended.

All other lines are unaffected by the Tube strike, which lasts until midnight tonight. Services are expected to return to normal tomorrow morning.

Strike action was overwhelmingly backed by members of the Aslef train drivers' union, which has accused London Underground of a "failure to treat drivers with the respect and dignity they deserve".

Nine in ten of the balloted members backed the walkout.

Finn Brennan, an organiser for the union, said: "This dispute has been brought about by management intransigence on a range of issues, but at its heart is management's refusal to treat drivers with the respect and dignity they deserve at work.

"Our members will not tolerate a situation where vulnerable people leave sickness review meetings in tears and drivers with years and years of good and long service are threatened with disciplinary action for a delay of 33 seconds in leaving a terminus."

London Underground's general manager Lance Ramsay said he was "disappointed" that the union had voted in favour of strike action while discussions were still ongoing. "Strike action is not necessary and we urge them to continue talks with us to understand and resolve their concerns," he said.

Tube strike: unions warn of eight-day disruption

1 July

Commuters have been told to expect travel disruption for more than a week as power workers stage a planned walkout, starting at 8pm this evening.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has warned of "severe consequences" for Tube operations as its members prepare for the eight-day walkout. The strike could also affect commuters when the Tour de France cycle race visits London on 7 July, it says.

However, London Underground has insisted that the Tube will run as normal. Richard Jones, London Underground's head of command and control, told The Independent there will be "no visible impact on the network should the strike action go ahead". He urged unions to "continue with constructive discussions rather than threaten pointless industrial action".

A previous strike was called off in May to allow further negotiations, but the last-ditch talks to resolve a row over pensions and working conditions appear to have failed.

Mick Cash, RMT acting general secretary, said the claim that the underground can be run without its member was "both provocative and dangerous". He described the dispute as an "all-out attack" that would hit pensions, length of service, working conditions and the futures of the staff who supply the power to the entire tube network from their base in Blackfriars.

"These staff are effectively the national grid for London Underground and this action will have the most severe consequences for Tube operations but has been forced on us by management wrecking the earlier talks," he said.

A Unite spokesman, whose members will also take part in the walkout, said: "The blame for any disruption will lie with the management because this dispute should have been resolved weeks ago. The travelling public faces the very real prospect of their journeys being disrupted because of the irresponsibility of the management."

Tube strike called off for bank holiday weekend

23 May

Talks between union leaders and Transport for London have led to the cancellation of the Tube strike that had threatened to disrupt the London Underground during the bank holiday weekend.

Technicians in the Tube's power control room, which supplies electricity to 270 stations in the network, had planned to walk out from midnight tonight until Tuesday morning.

John Woods, deputy chief conciliator at the mediation service Acas said: "Following three days of talks led by the conciliation service Acas, London Underground, Unite and TSSA have arrived at a position where the trade unions will withdraw the strike action due to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend".

Earlier in the week, Unite's Hugh Roberts said: "The issue here is broken promises, unfair treatment over differentials and worsening conditions".

In response, London Underground's head of command and control Richard Jones said he was "happy to discuss" all the unions' issues, but urged them to call off the strike.

Tube strike could close London Underground all weekend

21 May

The London Underground could be "completely shut down" over the bank holiday weekend because of strike action by just 40 technicians who belong to the union Unite, which is demanding better pay and conditions for its members.

The technicians work in the Tube's control room, which provides power to the entire 270-station train network. They are ready to walk out in a "complex" dispute over their status as Underground employees. The strike action would run from midnight on Friday night until 8am on Tuesday.

Talks at the conciliation service Acas adjourned yesterday without agreement, and continued throughout today.

If the two sides fail to reach a resolution, the Tube may be shut down for the duration of the bank holiday weekend.A Transport for London spokesman told The Independent that the organisation "expected" to be able to replace the striking workers but that it could not guarantee it.

Closures could begin as early as Friday evening, the Unite union said, due to "health and safety concerns" and to ensure that passengers do not get stranded on powerless trains.

"There is a real possibility that the Underground could close down over the bank holiday weekend," said Hugh Roberts from the union. "Unite is working very hard to achieve a fair settlement for our members – and to avoid the industrial action." But he added: "The ball is very much in the management's court".

According to the London Evening Standard, Roberts "acknowledged that the dispute is 'complex', and relates to a transfer of undertakings from London Underground to other organisations, and then back again".

But he said: "The issue here is broken promises, unfair treatment and worsening conditions".

Richard Jones, head of command and control at London Underground, said he was happy to discuss grievances raised by staff but urged Unite to suspend the strike threat while talks took place.

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