RMT Tube Strike ‘Rock Solid’

Strikers at West Ruislip on the Central Line insist no full-time Tube driver should work night time duties

THE WEEKEND strike action on London Underground (LU) on the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria Tube lines was rock solid.

The striking Tube driver transport union RMT members are determined to defeat management’s unilateral abolition of the category of night-tube driver, slashing 200 jobs, tearing up negotiated agreements and destroying ‘work-life balance’.
On the picket line at West Ruislip Central Line Tube Depot at 4.30am on Saturday morning, RMT member Chris James told News Line: ‘Most Aslef members are refusing to cross our picket line and we have a good turnout
‘We are very happy with the turnout from this branch and we are tired of what the company are doing. They are not having constructive meetings at all.
‘They are bullying through what they want, which will have a negative impact on our work-life balance.’
Darren Lalli, West Ruislip RMT Rep for six years, told News Line: ‘We have taken industrial action for four weeks due to the imposed night Tube duties that would affect our work-life balance, our health and also rip-up the agreement that we went on strike to achieve in 2016.
‘Basically, that agreement stated in 2016 that no full-time Tube driver will ever have to work night time duties.
‘So part-time workers were recruited specifically to work the night Tube in 2015.
‘The Aslef leaders have agreed to management’s imposition, but most of the Tube drivers, including Aslef members and non-union members, don’t agree with it.
‘Senior management, as reported in the Evening Standard, are about to share a £12 million bonus if their targets are met – i.e. to bring in these cuts on the Tube.’
RMT member Danny Watkins, said: ‘In April we are balloting to take action against the pension cuts and this will be a much bigger fight.
‘The public need to know the truth about what is happening to us.’
At Leytonstone Tube station in east London at 4.30am Den Fitzpatrick, RMT health and safety rep told News Line: ‘This is our fourth week of strike on the Night Tube.
‘During Covid they shut down the Night Tube.
‘When they started it up again on November 26 they imposed new rosters.
‘In the past it was part-time drivers that did two nights a week, now it’s full time drivers that have to do two nights a week and that messes up our work-life balance.
‘It makes it more difficult to change our duties.
‘The day after a Saturday night shift is a rest day but you finish at 8.00am so you spend most of the day in bed.
‘We have struck against this before with Aslef. It was RMT and Aslef out together.
‘Aslef should join this strike but instead they have struck a deal.
‘The reason I am so strongly in favour of this strike is that I am not for management imposing an agreement.
‘We’re reballoting now to continue our strike and this is a strike we are going to win.’
At White City Tube Station in west London, striking driver Roberta Stevens told News Line: ‘We are striking because the company is forcing us to break our long-term agreements.
‘The company is proposing that we work Night Tube shifts on our roster.
‘This will damage our working conditions and work-life balance.
‘It’s unhealthy and very demanding and will cause fatigue due to changing shift patterns which is very dangerous and unsafe.
‘It also goes against the agreement we’ve had since 2015.
‘We have tried to negotiate since May, but we have not come to an agreement because the company does not want to.
‘So we have had no choice but to take strike action.’
At Seven Sisters Tube depot in north London, RMT Health and Safety Rep, Uzhar told News Line: ‘We are striking because the company London Underground (LU) ripped up our agreement in 2016.
‘Aslef is not out. We work together with their members and think that if they hadn’t signed a deal and they had balloted they would have got a positive strike vote.
‘We have different grades of drivers.
‘This is to do with conditions, we want to reintroduce a grade which would mean that drivers would agree to only do the night shift.
‘It has been used to get rid of at least 200 jobs on the Tube.
‘We are saying: “respect our agreement, put back the separate Night Tube grade and improve the conditions of all drivers.”
‘It is not a pay dispute. Some who are against the strike say that it is, but it is not.
‘As well as drivers, our union is fighting for all staff on the Underground. We want Aslef to ballot again and rip up their shoddy agreement.’
At Brixton tube station,  Des Rice, RMT Tier 2 Safety rep, told News Line: ‘All we want is Sadiq Khan to act like a Labour mayor, and not like a Tory.
‘If people wanted a Tory mayor they would have voted for (Tory candidate) Bailey. They are using the pandemic to “put us in our place”, where they think we should be.
‘Here at Brixton eight people have left and not been replaced. Overall, 200 positions have been lost recently because of the changes they want to bring in.
‘We only get 17 Saturday rest days in a 90-week period. This causes problems for people with young families.
‘The Career Average pension means a huge cut, where it used to be based on your final salary, now it’s an average of all the years you’ve worked, including starting pay which would have been very low.
‘As a result, they are losing experienced people, who are getting out to avoid the pension cut.’

  • A major demonstration takes place today, Tuesday 21st Dec, at London King’s Cross, one of 13 stations where rail operator LNER is proposing to slash ticket office opening hours.

At King’s Cross, LNER plans to reduce ticket office hours by a massive 30 hours a week.
The plans would mean that the ticket office would open later in the morning and close more than three hours earlier most nights.
RMT believes these proposed cuts are the steps on the road to complete closure of all ticket offices on the railway and will make the network less safe, secure and accessible for passengers and is calling on the government, which owns LNER, to reverse these short-sighted and damaging proposals.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘It is frankly unfathomable that LNER is planning to slash ticket office hours at one of the UK’s key transport hubs.
‘It is clear this is an attempt to cynically exploit the Covid crisis and force passengers away from the expertise of the ticket office and we believe that the LNER’s ticket office cuts programme is the first step on the way to closing all railway ticket offices.
‘This flies in the face of what passengers want. In fact, research by the government’s own watchdog has found that passengers want to see more, not less staff.’