Tube strike: drivers set date for another 24-hour walkout

Jul 14, 2015

London Underground drivers to stage another strike as government tries to bring in new restraints

Unions have announced another Tube strike, just a week after the biggest London Underground walkout in more than a decade.

Members of the Aslef union have said they will stage a 24-hour strike from 9.30pm on Wednesday 5 August, amid an ongoing row over the new Night Tube service.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite union – all of which joined Aslef in strike action last week – are yet to formally announce whether they will walk out on 5 August.

Conciliation service Acas has invited the four trade unions to attend negotiations with London Underground today.

Steve Griffiths, London Underground's chief operating officer, said: "We have made a very fair and reasonable offer on pay and the introduction of the night Tube and we continue to urge the trade unions to put it to their members. We will be at Acas for further discussions to resolve this issue and trust the trade unions will be too."

Tom Edwards, BBC London transport correspondent, said it was "not a massive surprise" that Aslef had named a new date for a Tube strike as the dispute has not yet been resolved.

"The unions still have concerns over the introduction of the Night Tube and extra night and weekend shifts and how it will erode the work/life balance of employees," he says.

"But the concerns aren't just about that, they also cover pay and the closure of ticket offices. And with four unions involved with varying issues it means finding a resolution will be harder."

Tomorrow the government is expected to announce plans to reform trade unions and protect public services against strikes.

In what The Times says could be "the biggest showdown over industrial relations for a generation", the proposals include a new 50 per cent voting threshold for union ballot turnouts and a 40 per cent minimum vote in favour of industrial action by public service workers.

Londoners warned of more 'summer chaos'

10 July

After London's worst Tube strike for more than a decade, commuters have been warned that they could be "plunged into more Tube strike chaos" this summer.

The 24-hour walkout shut down the London Underground, forcing millions of people to battle for alternative modes of transport. Commuters were stuck in long queues for buses, taxis and bike hire, while roads and pavements were congested across the capital.

The strike is estimated to have cost London's economy around £50m in lost productivity, says the Financial Times. "London could be plunged into more Tube strike chaos this summer if negotiations between London Underground managers and unions fail to reach an agreement," warns the newspaper.

The two sides are expected to resume talks early next week. Finn Brennan, a district organiser at Aslef, which represents Tube drivers, said his members were willing to go on strike again.

"The strength of feeling among our members is such that we have to take action. Genuinely it's not what we want to do but that's why we're appealing to the company to negotiate," he said.

Is the Tube strike reasonable?

Around 20,000 workers walked out on Wednesday after negotiations broke down between London Underground and four different unions.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash claimed employers were attempting to "bulldoze" through new working patterns that would "wreck work/life balance and leave staff in safety-critical jobs burnt out and stressed out at a time when tube services are facing unprecedented demand".

The FT says unions rejected a two per cent pay rise and £2,000 bonus for drivers on the Night Tube, an improvement on the original offer, which included 0.75 per cent pay rise and £250 bonus. Yesterday, Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said the "fair and reasonable" offer was still available and that the organisation was open to negotiations.

After London was left at a standstill, Asa Bennett at the Daily Telegraph appeared unsympathetic towards the Tube drivers. He said they enjoy a starting salary of £49,673 a year, which "easily dwarfs" the starting salaries for workers in other sectors such as health and education, as well as 43 days in annual leave and an average 36-hour week. "So as Londoners are forced to endure commuting chaos due to rail unions clamouring for money, it's clear tube drivers are currently doing rather well," said Bennett.

The Evening Standard also thought they had been offered a "fair" deal. "It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this strike is largely political, coming as it does on Budget day: a lashing-out at a Tory Government," said the newspaper. "That is a destructive indulgence Londoners could do without. The unions must be prepared to compromise."

Aslef warned its members that they would be "vilified" by some because they have the "courage" to protest against employers imposing changes without agreement.

"But for every right-wing journalist who attacks you, there will be hundreds or thousands of other hard working people who will admire your stand, who will wish that they were able to do the same," said the union. "Aslef will never apologise for the fact that we have negotiated relatively decent working conditions. That is what trade unions exist to do."

Tube strike today: how to get around London

09 July

Commuters in the capital are facing the "worst Tube strike in more than a decade" today as tens of thousands of London Underground workers take part in a 24-hour walk-out. Transport for London warned that there would be no trains on the Tube from Wednesday afternoon through to Thursday evening, after London Underground negotiators and union bosses failed to settle their differences over pay and conditions related to the new Night Tube. 

The Tube strike began at 6.30pm yesterday, when all trains came to a halt. TfL is running additional bus and river services – with roadworks also suspended where possible – but commuters have been warned that all public transport and roads will be much busier than usual.

Below are some tips for surviving the strike:

How do I get to Wimbledon?

Tens of thousands of tennis fans will be trying to travel to and from Wimbledon this week amid the chaos of the Tube strike. London Underground trains will not run from Southfields, Wimbledon or any other nearby stations on Wednesday evening or Thursday. However, South West Trains services are still running into and out of central London. Wimbledon rail station will remain open and is a 20 minute walk from the venue or a short journey on the London General shuttle bus. Thameslink services and London Tramlink, which runs between Wimbledon, Croydon, Beckenham Junction and Elmers End, will also remain open.

Alternatively, tennis fans can use local bus routes 493 to Richmond or 93 to Putney Bridge. Taxi-sharing will also be available between Wimbledon station and Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and from Wimbledon Tennis Championships to central London, says TfL. More advice on driving and cycling to the venue can be found here.

Get the bus

"A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure." The quote, sometimes attributed to Margaret Thatcher, is likely to be apocryphal, but if she did say it she obviously never experienced a Tube strike.

If walking isn't an option, jumping on a bus may be your best bet. TfL is putting on around 200 extra buses, but space might be at a premium and buses are likely to crawl along at a snail's pace in the congestion. The strike also happens to coincide with the Standard Chartered Great City Race – a 5km running race that means streets will be closed off in the City of London from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Thursday 9 July, affecting 20 bus routes.

To aid your journey, download the free London Bus Live Countdown app, which will tell you how long you have to wait until the next two buses come at once, and follow @TfLBusAlerts on Twitter for updates.

Ride a bike

So-called 'Boris bikes' can be hired throughout central London with Santander Cycles, but if you want to get on two wheels, you may need to get in early – during previous Tube strikes the scheme was incredibly popular. TfL is adding bikes to its existing cycle hubs in Waterloo, Stonecutter Street and Belgrove Street, as well as putting on extra hubs at peak times in Soho Square, Houghton Street, Finsbury Square and Butler Place. Find a docking station here.

If you are a not a regular cyclist then heed these words of wisdom from Stu Bowers, deputy editor of Cyclist magazine:

  • Awareness, awareness, awareness. It's the best piece of advice we can offer any cyclist. Experienced cyclists develop a sixth sense for predicting what could happen. That car is about to pull out in front of me; that pedestrian is about to step off the kerb into my path etc. Be aware of what or who is behind you as well as in front.
  • Ride like you'd drive a car. Be assertive but within the rules of the road. Take as much room as you need, and be confident. Indecision/hesitancy/nervous riding can cause accidents.
  • Don't go through red lights.
  • Don't go along the inside of large vehicles (buses, lorries etc) as if they suddenly turn left they will squash you. They may not have indicated their intention to make this turn to you.
  • Don't forget even a Boris bike has gears – they are there to make your life easier – so get a feel for how to use them, and you will find riding one much more pleasurable.
  • Consider wearing a helmet. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Plan a route before you go.
Navigate the Thames

Extra river services will be operating between Central London and Canary Wharf, and Central London and Putney. Find your closest pier here. To cross the river, you may also be able to use the Emirates Air Line. The cable car, which runs from Greenwich to the Royal Docks, will be open until midnight on Wednesday and Thursday, and will accept Oyster cards and Travelcards.

Take a taxi

The streets are likely to be snarled with traffic, but if you have no other option, marshalled taxi services operate at Euston, Waterloo, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, King's Cross, Victoria, Charing Cross, and Marylebone stations. You might also want to try the Hailo app to bring a black cab to you.

Walk

London may be smaller than you think. Download Google Maps to your phone and navigate your own way to work. The NHS says that taking a stroll is an underrated form of exercise. A 60kg person walking at 3mph will burn 99 calories in 30 minutes. So when you get to work you can reward yourself with a piece of cake. A very small piece of cake.

Take a train

The entire Underground network is expected to grind to a halt, but the London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and trams are expected to operate a normal service. National Rail services will also operate as normal – with the exception of Chiltern Railways and First Great Western. Chiltern Railways trains coming into London in the morning peak or out of London in the evening peak will not stop at stations between Marylebone and Great Missenden. Due to separate strike action, many of First Great Western's service have been "severely affected". More details on the rail strike disruption can be found here.

Tube strike: 'no trains' for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday

7 July

Transport for London has confirmed that if strike action goes ahead this week, there will be no trains on the Tube from Wednesday afternoon through to Thursday evening.

In an email to Tube users, TfL said: "The Aslef, RMT, Unite and TSSA unions are currently planning strike action, affecting London Underground. If this goes ahead, there will be no Tube service from late afternoon on Wednesday 8 July and no Tube service at all on Thursday 9 July."

Union bosses say that they are "increasingly pessimistic" that a deal will be struck ahead of the proposed strike, the Evening Standard reports, and if there is no breakthrough the 24-hour strike will officially begin at 6.30pm on Wednesday, though services may start to close before then.

London Underground negotiators and union bosses were due to meet on Monday and Tuesday at the Euston offices of the conciliation service Acas, hoping to reach an agreement regarding the unions' two separate disputes over annual pay and the operation of the Night Tube.

Finn Brennan, the district secretary of Aslef, which represents train drivers, said Tube bosses had "wasted the window of opportunity to try and reach agreement" and said he was "increasingly pessimistic" that a solution will be found.

"They have not moved their position at all during the last three months and seem intent on forcing through change without negotiation," he said.

Steve Griffiths, London Underground's chief operating officer, said: "Londoners and businesses overwhelmingly back the Night Tube.

"Most of our staff will not be affected by the new services at all because it affects only five of 11 lines. Some staff will actually work fewer nights than they do now because we have hired 137 more train operators specifically for the Night Tube."

Unions have rejected what the London Underground called a "full and final" pay offer, which included a two per cent pay rise and £2,000 bonus for drivers on the Night Tube. The offer originally included a 0.75 per cent pay rise and £250 bonus.

The 24-hour walkout would cause the "most widespread disruption on the capital's Tube network in more than a decade", says the Financial Times. "Most strikes in recent years have largely involved station workers rather than Tube drivers," says the newspaper. This time, around 20,000 workers are due to strike in a move that is expected to "shut down the entire Underground network".

TfL has advised customers to complete their Tube journeys before 6pm on 8 July, but warned that Tube services will be "exceptionally busy" between 4pm and 6pm. "Extra bus and river services will run to help Londoners get around and roadworks will be suspended wherever possible but all public transport and roads will be much busier than usual," it said.

First Great Western services could also be disrupted from Wednesday evening onwards due to a separate dispute over working conditions by RMT members.

 

 Tube strike: when will London Underground be disrupted?

1 July 2015

More London Underground workers have voted to join Tube drivers in a 24-hour strike next week in a row over pay and the new all-night Tube service.

Members of the RMT and TSSA unions are planning to walk out from 6.30pm on Wednesday 8 July, while members of the drivers' union Aslef will walk out at 9.30pm.

Unite, which represents electrical and maintenance technicians, linesmen and signallers, has also supported strike action.

The unions are unhappy about issues including jobs and safety, as well as specific pay and conditions for the new weekend Night Tube, which will begin on five lines from 12 September.

Aslef said drivers are being expected to work an unlimited number of weekend and night shifts for no extra pay, while RMT general secretary Mick Cash claimed Underground management had "smashed apart long-term agreements" and were trying to "bully" staff into accepting roster changes.

"The industrial relations situation on the Tube has sunk to an almost unprecedented low with all four unions united and balloting for action over pay and working arrangements due to be ushered in under the guise of the mayor's 'Night Tube' vanity project in just ten weeks' time," he said.

The unions are in talks today with the conciliation service Acas to resolve the dispute.

The new Night Tube will run on the Victoria and Jubilee lines, as well as sections of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

Steve Griffiths, London Underground's chief operating officer, told the BBC: "Londoners and businesses overwhelmingly back the Night Tube. It will make life easier for everyone, cut journey times, create jobs and boost the economy.

"No-one is being asked to work more hours. In return, we are offering a realistic pay increase this year and next, as well as an additional payment for Night Tube working."

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No rail service of any sort west of Exeter, so England cut off from Cornwall and likely to be for weeks; but that is obviously much less important than a few people having to get a bus rather than the tube in that London...

Economically it is.