London Underground workers in the RMT, TSSA, and Aslef unions will strike for 24 hours, starting on the evening of 26 January.
Tube workers are fighting for a better settlement on pay, terms, and conditions after unions rejected London Underground bosses’ latest offer. The deal promised pay increases which barely kept pace with inflation, and which would be all but negated by impending increases in employee National Insurance contributions. London Underground also refuses to make concrete commitments on improving work/life balance as it attempts to introduce 24-hour running (“Night Tube”). After strikes in July and August, the company committed to staff “Night Tube” only with volunteers, but instead of seeking them, it has opened an external recruitment campaign for new drivers, which unions argue cuts off a key promotional pathway for existing staff.
RMT, which represents workers in all grades (Aslef organises only drivers) is also continuing its fight against London Underground’s “Fit for the Future” programme, a restructure of the way Tube stations are staffed, which will see a huge reduction in frontline staffing levels, and will impose a new grading system on staff that will, in effect, force them all into the role immediately above their existing grade for no extra pay. Elements of “Fit for the Future” have already been imposed, including the closure of nearly every ticket office on the network. As Solidarity went to press, talks were continuing at conciliation service Acas, but the strikes remained on.
Picket lines will be mounted at train depots, engineering depots, and several major stations. Further 24-hour strikes are planned for 15-16 and 17-18 February.
RMT is campaigning to save ticket offices at the 11 stations where they remain open, mostly at the north end of the Bakerloo Line. Because these stations transferred into London Underground from the former Silverlink network, the procedure for closing them is different and LU is obliged to conduct a public consultation. Union activists and local Labour councillors leafleted passengers outside Harrow and Wealdstone station on Monday 18 January, and the RMT Bakerloo Line branch planned a demonstration at Queen’s Park on Wednesday 20.
RMT is preparing to ballot its members in all grades on London Underground for strikes to demand that London Underground drops its disciplinary proceedings against Station Supervisor Glen Hart. London Underground first went after Glen after he closed his station during a union overtime ban in 2014, despite him following regulations to the letter. Although they were forced to drop those trumped-up charges, they are now pursuing Glen on a misconduct charge after an individual manager alleged Glen was aggressive towards him. A union activist told Solidarity, “if London Underground gets away with disciplining Glen on this basis, then ‘I don’t like the way you looked at me’ could in effect soon become a disciplinary charge. “This level of pettifogging and personalised discipline is an inevitable consequence of LU’s increasingly top-down, hyper-managerial culture.”