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'

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: '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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