Millions as of today face travel chaos as major lines have reduced service or come to a complete standstill.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union today launched a series of 24-hour strikes over changes to staff rosters to restart the Night Tube after talks between Transport for London (TfL) and union bosses fell through.
The union said its members are being asked to work both night and day shifts after dedicated night workers were laid off.
The Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines were brought to a halt at 4.30am today, causing further disruption to the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
TfL says these lines are likely to be severely disrupted every weekend from 7pm, which is a major blow to December revelers.
A TfL source told the London Evening Standard yesterday that “not much has been developed” since the announcement of the union action, but that TfL “remains open to talks” with RMT.
TfL warned of disruption of services and advised people to check before traveling.
The Night Tube has been shut down due to the pandemic and will restart on Friday.
The Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines came to a halt at 4.30am today, further disrupting the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
There will also be action on the Central and Victoria lines from 8:30 PM to 4:30 AM on each of the intervening Saturdays and Sundays from now through December 18
Passengers exit a crowded underground train still wearing their face masks in London
Which metro lines are affected and why are drivers going on strike?
What is going on?
RMT began a 24-hour strike on the five subway lines from 4:30 a.m. Friday, November 26.
Which tube lines will be affected?
TfL said the Tube lines will be affected:
- 4:30am November 26 – 4:29am 27th November (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria)
- 8:30 pm November 27 – 4:29 am November 28 (Central & Victoria)
- 8.30pm 3rd December – 04.29am 4th December (Central and Victoria)
- 8.30pm 4th December – 04.29am 5th December (Central & Victoria)
- 8.30 p.m. December 10 – 4.29 a.m. December 11 (Central & Victoria)
- 8.30pm 11th December – 04.29am 12th December (Central and Victoria)
- 8.30pm December 17 – 4.29pm December 18 (Central & Victoria)
- 4:30 am December 18 – 4:29 am December 19 (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria)
Why did Pipe Riders go on strike?
TfL has announced that London Night Tube service will resume on the Victoria and Central lines from November 27.
The east-west Central Line and the north-south Victoria Lines would operate at night every Friday and Saturday.
The RMT says the roster changes have resulted in “unacceptable and intolerable demands” on its members and their work-life balance.
Underground drivers protest against staff rosters to restart the Night Tube, which is due to resume late Saturday night and Sunday morning on the Victoria and Central lines.
TfL maintains that all of Tube’s other unions approved the roster change in May, which came after 200 Night Tube employees were integrated into TfL’s ‘day Tube’ staff, calling the strike action “unnecessary”.
But the RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, accused Tube bosses of “soberly refusing to consider the serious grievances at the heart of the dispute,” but added that the union also “remains open.” stand for discussions’.
The union says the changes have resulted in “unacceptable and intolerable demands” from its members.
Similar strikes were planned over the summer over the same issue, which were called off after ‘last-ditch’ talks with TfL.
Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL are “confident” they can restart night shifts, but said they may be able to run fewer Tube trains than hoped.
TfL could face further disruptions over Christmas as the ASLEF union threatens its members to go on strike over changes to TfL’s pension plans.
TfL is required to undertake a review of its pension plans as a condition of the financing agreement agreed with the government.
ASLEF’s Tube organizer Finn Brennan said there will be “harsh and sustained industrial action in the London Underground” if changes are made, although no dates have been confirmed.
Sir Brendan Barber, former general secretary of the TUC and current head of ACAS, has been appointed to lead a ‘truly independent’ review of TfL’s pensions.
TfL Commissioner Andy Byford said there is “no predetermined outcome” to the assessment and has said “we will report in due course”.
In a statement, Mr Lynch said: “This strike is about the breakup of popular and family-friendly conventions that helped make the original Night Tube such a success.
‘Instead, the company wants to cut costs and lump all drivers into one heap, where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of management.
“We have done everything in ACAS and direct conversations since the beginning to resolve this dispute, but it is clear that the LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well-being of their staff or passenger service.
“This strike, and its dire consequences in the run up to Christmas, could have been avoided if Tube management had not fired the dedicated Night Tube staff and made perfectly workable arrangements to reduce staff numbers and costs.
“We warned months ago that cutting 200 night train driver positions would cause a staff nightmare and that LU must quickly face that reality.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan meets members of the Battersea Power Station Community Choir, at the newly opened Battersea Power Station London Underground station, South London
“Even at this late stage, the union remains available for further consultation.”
Nick Dent, director of London Underground Customer Operations, said: “The planned strike action by the RMT is unnecessary and will threaten London’s recovery from the pandemic, despite no job losses and greater flexibility and job security for drivers.
“While all other unions have agreed to these changes and our staff has been enjoying the benefits of the changes since August, we are willing to work with the RMT and review the changes after Night Tube services return.
“This review can only be successful if the RMT agrees to meet with us for discussions and withdraw the proposed action so that we can all see how these changes will work in practice.
“If the RMT refuses to do business with us and takes unnecessary action, which is timed to cause maximum disruption to our customers wishing to enjoy London during the festive season, Londoners are advised to check before traveling on off-season days.” planned strike action. ‘