In Brief

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'

23 May

After months of delays, London's Night Tube is to run its first service on 19 August – but Londoners should be wary of preparing for all-night celebrations and instead prepare for more misery from further strike action.The launch, which will provide 24-hour weekend services for the first time in the city’s history, will begin on the Central and Victoria lines before being picked up by the Piccadilly, Jubilee and Northern lines in the autumn.

It could, however, prove to be a bumpy ride as the Rail, Maritime and Transport union remains in dispute with London Underground over conditions for engineering workers linked to the new service. A ballot on industrial action is being held.The Night Tube has been beset with disagreements between Transport for London (TfL) and the unions, who have maintained the service could have been introduced earlier had it not been for 18 months of “tortuous” negotiations to reach a deal on pay and conditions. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the union is still working to resolve issues "against a background of massive cuts", the Daily Telegraph reports. "RMT also has major concerns over the safe running of the Night Tube and there are unresolved issues on the detailed safety case that will have to be agreed through the health and safety machinery," he said. Around 200 part-time drivers are currently taking part in a 14-week training programme, originally announced by then London mayor Boris Johnson in September 2014. Tom Edwards of the BBC, who once referred to the planned service as a "zombie policy", says the Night Tube was the most problematic of the former mayor's schemes to get off the ground.New Mayor Sadiq Khan said the service will help support around 2,000 permanent jobs and boost London’s economy "by £360 million"."The constant delays under the previous mayor let Londoners down badly. I have made getting the Night Tube up and running a priority," he said.

The service will run through the night on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tube strike: No Piccadilly line as drivers walk out

24 March

Tube drivers on the Piccadilly line, one of the busiest on the London Underground, are taking part in a 24-hour strike.

Around 400 members of the Aslef and RMT unions are striking over issues with ageing trains and "hostile" management attitudes.

Transport for London (TfL) warned there would be no service on the Piccadilly line for the rest of the day.

"The London Underground line carries some 600,000 passengers a day and is the only Tube service to Heathrow," says the BBC.

Those travelling to and from the airport have been advised to use Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express via London Paddington station.

Interchange stations along the line are expected to be "much busier than usual", says TfL, especially Finsbury Park, Green Park and King's Cross. Other Tube lines, National Rail services and the A4 and M4 motorway corridor to Heathrow may also face congestion as travellers seek alternative routes.

More buses will be running and Santander Cycle docking stations will be restocked more frequently.

Mick Cash, the union's general secretary, said: "The hostile and aggressive attitude by Tube bosses has collapsed the normal negotiating process and as a result they are wholly to blame for the fact that the strike action goes ahead.

"The wholesale abuse of procedures and agreements by management on the Piccadilly line is rife and amounts to the development of a campaign of bullying, harassment and intimidation that the union will not allow to continue."

The Piccadilly line has "some of the oldest trains on the network", known as "1973 stock", says the BBC. A door opened on a moving train on the line earlier this year, although TfL said it was an "isolated incident".

London Underground operations director Pat Hansberry has described today's strike as "indefensible" and claims it has been called to "protect drivers who refused to drive Piccadilly line trains on their shifts without good reason, resulting in delays to our customers".

The RMT is also due to strike on 19 and 21 April.

London Underground's Night Tube 'to start running in August'

14 March

London Underground's long-awaited Night Tube service looks set to begin this summer after being delayed for almost a year.

Although Transport for London (TfL) is yet to confirm a start date, sources told the Press Association that the 24-hour weekend service will begin on Victoria and Jubilee lines on 5 August.

It will then reportedly be extended to the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines the following month.

"No date has yet been agreed for the launch of the Night Tube, but we are working hard to deliver it for London as quickly as possible," said a TfL spokesperson.

The Night Tube was originally due to begin on 12 September 2015, but was postponed due to a dispute between the unions and London Underground chiefs over staff pay and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and the drivers' union, Aslef, voted to accept a deal on pay earlier this month, but the Unite and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association unions have yet to officially endorse the deal.

"We were always clear that we were in favour of Night Tube," Aslef's Finn Brennan told the London Evening Standard.

"A world-class capital city such as London deserves a world-class public transport system," he added. "We are really pleased that passengers will be able to enjoy an all-night service from August."

Night Tube deal confirmed but six more strikes planned

02 March

London Underground's biggest union has voted to accept a deal that will finally allow the Night Tube to go into action, six months after it was scheduled to open.

An overwhelming 84 per cent of the 10,000 Tube workers balloted by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union agreed to take the latest offer on pay and conditions surrounding the new 24-hour service.

The RMT described the proposal, which gives a guaranteed four years of above-inflation pay and a £500 bonus for staff at stations on the Night Tube network, as a "fair deal" for its members.

Three more unions are yet to vote but at least one of them, the drivers' union, Aslef, has advised its members to accept the deal.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash praised union members for their "loyalty, determination and militancy" during the negotiations.

It will still be some time before the first partiers and night-shift workers can make use of the Night Tube, however. A total of 180 part-time train drivers will need to be trained before the service can go into operations, the BBC reports, making it unlikely that the first trains will run before the summer.

However, the Night Tube saga is only one of a myriad of disputes over pay, working conditions, rosters, safety and ticket-office closures that have placed unions and bosses at loggerheads.

A 48-hour strike over pay and working conditions and a 24-hour walkout by maintenance staff were called off last month, but ongoing disputes over safety mean there is a strong possibility of further industrial action.

Six more strikes are scheduled between now and the summer, including walkouts on Mother's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Monday, as well as the day of the London Marathon. However, Transport for London has said they do not believe these strikes, which will only involve maintenance workers, will cause services to be cancelled if they do go ahead.

Planned strikes:

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 6 March

24-hour strike from 6.30am on Friday 25 March

24-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 27 March

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 24 April

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 15 May

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 12 June

Tube strike cancelled but London Marathon walkout is still on

11 February

Friday's 24-hour Tube strike has been called off, but further industrial action remains in place, including a walkout during this year's London Marathon.

Around 1,500 London Underground maintenance workers were due to down tools from 6.30am tomorrow in a row over safety, with the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union claiming potentially "lethal" changes were being made to the way workers access the track.

The union has now called off the action after receiving confirmation that any changes would be put on hold for two weeks to allow for a comprehensive safety review.

It is the second strike to be cancelled in just a week. A 48-hour walkout planned for last weekend was suspended at the last minute.

Mick Cash, the RMT general secretary, said: "The hard work of RMT's negotiating team, backed by a determined and rock-solid workforce, has enabled us to secure a two-week block on these track access changes to allow for a comprehensive safety review prior to a return to [the conciliation service] Acas."

He added: "The dispute remains live, further strike action remains in place from early March and action short of a strike also remains in force.

"The union has made itself available for the safety review and the continuing talks and we remain determined to secure a long-term agreement that protects the safety culture across London Underground."

Steve Griffiths, the chief operating officer at London Underground said: "I welcome the RMT's decision to suspend this action to allow for further talks to take place.

"Safety is always our top priority and we have robust and comprehensive procedures in place to ensure that any staff working on the track are kept safe."

A further 500 track patrol staff are still set to walk out tomorrow in a separate dispute about the "casualisation" of their jobs by private contractors. This is not thought likely to disrupt Tube services.

When are the next Tube strikes?

Plans for further strike action remains in place from March to June:

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 6 March

24-hour strike from 6.30am on Friday 25 March

24-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 27 March

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 24 April

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 15 May

12-hour strike from 6.30am on Sunday 12 June

The April strike would coincide with the London Marathon, which could pose difficulties for runners and spectators travelling in and out of the city. As major stretches of roads are closed for the 26-mile race, more people rely on the Tube than buses to travel around.

How will commuters be affected?

Transport for London (TfL) has not given any information about what might happen if the other strikes go ahead. In the past, some Underground stations have been closed and TfL has put on extra buses and bikes, with Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Overground, Thames Clipperboat and National Rail running as normal.

On the plus side, a separate dispute over plans for the new Night Tube service appears to be over, with RMT urging its 10,000 members to accept a deal put forward by their employers.

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