Powerful Night Tube Picket Lines In Place

Saturday night's RMT picket line at West Ruislip Station

POWERFUL picket lines were in place on London Underground (LU) Central and Victoria lines across the weekend, as RMT members took strike action against the scrapping of the Night Tube driver role.

The union is fighting against members being forced into night driving as part of their normal rosters and ‘the imposition of working practices that would rip apart work-life balance’.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Our members have remained solid and determined in support of the Night Tube action this weekend and have sent out the clearest possible signal that this issue isn’t going away. The Mayor and his officials need to wake up to that fact.

‘With action scheduled for the next six months there is only one way forward and that’s for serious and genuine talks aimed at a negotiated settlement.’

On the picket line at West Ruislip Station on Saturday night, RMT Industrial Rep Darren Lalli told News Line: ‘It was a quiet night last night and the same again tonight. No-one crossed the picket line, not RMT, Aslef or even non-union.

‘This Night Tube action has been going on since November 26. We are fighting against the imposition of Night Tube duties on full-time drivers.

‘There were 200 Night Tube part-time positions which London Underground have basically just scrapped and are imposing onto the full-time roster.

‘The union is demanding that those 200 jobs are restored and to switch to the original 2016 agreement which said that no driver would be forced to do night duties.’

Lalli warned that this is ‘very dangerous’ for drivers and passengers alike.

He alleged: ‘Aslef should be out with us now, but they’ve done a deal with management at the top of the union.

‘Even though Aslef have done this deal the majority of their members don’t want to do this and they haven’t crossed our picket line.’

RMT Health and Safety Rep Central Line West, Duncan Capp, said: ‘What they are doing is disastrous for our work-life balance. It has been shown that this is all about cuts. It has been revealed that it is for senior manager bonuses.

‘It was reported in the Evening Standard that they will receive £12 million in bonuses for making these cuts.’

Carlos Barros, RMT Health and Safety Upgrades Rep, said: ‘Management is escalating this action by provocatively moving from the two lines currently in dispute, Central and Victoria, and adding Piccadilly, Jubilee and Northern on May 15th.

‘We said we’re not going to do it in 2015, we’re not doing it now and we’re not doing it on May 15th either. It’s horrific, there are serious fatigue and health issues.’

RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley joined the picket line outside Seven Sisters Station in north London on the evening of Friday 7th January.

He told News Line: ‘They are trying to get rid of 250 jobs and make people switch between working days and nights – this causes chronic fatigue and is dangerous to passengers and staff.

‘We’ve put down six months of action every Friday and Saturday night until the end of the strike mandate.

‘There was an agreement for Night Tubes only, which they’ve now reneged on.

‘They’re trying to use the pandemic to make cuts to pay and conditions and casualise the industry.

‘They want London Underground on the cheap.

‘On Monday we’re awaiting the ballot result on the whole of London Underground – 10,000 workers – on the questions of pension- and job-cuts and detrimental changes to terms and conditions.

‘This involves drivers as well as engineers and station staff.’

Hedley went on to condemn NHS privatisation, saying: ‘The NHS is being privatised by the same people and companies that privatised the railways – Virgin, Balfour Beatty, ISS.’

Des Rice, RMT Health and Safety Rep for the Victoria Line, told News Line: ‘We had our second ballot and starting this Friday and Saturday night we are out until June.

‘This is 42 days of strike action in response to the company (LU) putting what were part-time jobs onto the full-time roster at the cost of 200 positions.

‘Before the Night Tube we had lots of vacancies but as part-time was moved to full-time those part-time positions were unfilled.

‘We are here for the duration until the Night Tube duties are made voluntary rather than rostered, meaning that we are forced to do them.

‘The other lie that LU have told is that it’s only four night duties a year, but that is four more weekends on a roster and what that means for a depot like, say, Brixton is that we end up getting only 17 weekends off a year and it means that we would have less time with our families.

‘As well as the Night Tube dispute we are also having our pensions cut.

‘Currently we have what is pretty much a final salary pension but what management want to impose is a career average pension which would be much lower.’