Further strikes likely for rail, London Underground and airports

Image above: London Underground

Tube workers vote to strike again… but Mayor hints at resolution of dispute

London Underground workers voted on Friday (24 June), to strike again, after a week’s action which has seen tube and rail services disrupted across the capital.

More than 90% of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members who voted decided to withdraw their labour in the coming months, according to the union.

Workers say they are campaigning to protect their pensions, improve working conditions, and prevent job losses. Transport for London (TfL) have announced plans to cut 600 jobs and reform the pension scheme that Mayor Sadiq Khan has described as “generous”.

A date for the next strike, or batch of strikes, is yet to be set.

Hopes to an end to the dispute, which has led to four Tube strikes in three months, have risen after Sadiq Khan signalled he accepted union demands not to cut staff pensions.

The mayor said he was “not persuaded” that the Transport for London “final salary” pension scheme, which cost TfL £401m in contributions last year, needed to have its benefits curtailed.

Image above: Heathrow

Rail strikes could continue until Christmas, British Airways workers vote to strike

June has seen biggest rail strikes more than 30 years, with three 24-hour strikes across the national rail network across over a dozen train operators, including South Western Railway, which services Chiswick station.

The strikes may go on for some time and as the cost of living bites more widely there are indications they may spread across the public sector.

The rail strikes are expected to be followed by disruption at key airports, including London Heathrow, after British Airways workers voted on Thursday (23 June) to strike during the peak summer holiday season as they demand a return to their pre-pandemic salaries.

A total of 700 British Airways staff are set to strike during the summer holidays, when demand from travellers is expected to be near pre-pandemic levels.

The unions said the action was due to a 10% pay cut imposed during the peak of the pandemic not being reinstated.

The RMT has suggested that strikes on the railways could continue until Christmas.

Image above: London Underground

Final Night Tube strikes this weekend

Tube drivers on the Central and Victoria lines have been walking out between 8.30pm and 4.29am every Friday and Saturday night since January.

The RMT union said the dispute was about protecting the work/life balance of Tube drivers. Workers claim the new night rosters are being imposed on drivers.

London Underground said drivers would only be rostered to work up to four night shift weekends per year and TfL defended the changes as “a positive change for the organisation and our staff” which has led to “no job losses”.

The last batch of these strikes ends this weekend on Sunday, 26 June. Tube customers are being urged to check before travelling on these lines between 7.00pm and 6.00am on Friday and Saturday nights.

TfL said during the strikes this Friday and Saturday they expect a good service on the Victoria line, a regular service on the Jubilee line (at least three trains per hour) and a regular service on the Central line(at least two trains per hour through central London).

Images above: TfL Chief Andy Byford and Sadiq Khan, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch

TfL chief “disappointed” at prospect of further Tube strikes, while RMT laud “fantastic result”

Andy Lord, TfL’s chief operating officer, said:

“We are disappointed that the RMT has achieved a mandate for further strike action. As a result of the pandemic and its impact on TfL finances, we have to become more efficient.

“There are no proposals to change pensions or terms and conditions and our proposals will ensure any reduction in roles is achieved through vacancy management, in line with our no compulsory redundancy agreement. We’re calling on the RMT to continue working with us.”

After the vote, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:

“This is a fantastic result for our members and proves that the arguments RMT has been making is endorsed by tube workers.”

“TfL and the Mayor of London need to seriously rethink their plans for hundreds of job cuts and trying to take hard-earned pensions from workers who serve the people of London on a daily basis,” Mr Lynch added. “He should not be trying to sacrifice our members’ pensions and jobs to fit within budget restraints laid down by Boris Johnson.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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