Night Tube strike begins: Drivers will walk out at 8.30pm every Friday and Saturday night for SIX MONTHS as Sadiq Khan is blasted for his handling of dispute with union over rosters

  • Drivers walked out at 8.30pm on Friday night to start six months of strike action
  • They will walk out every Friday and Saturday night until June over roster dispute 
  • Drivers say TfL’s demand to work four night shift weekends per year is ‘unfair’
  • London Minister Paul Scully described RMT’s walkout as ‘totally unreasonable’
  • But he urged Sadiq Khan to get round table and ‘thrash out’ a deal with unions 

A strike on the Night Tube service has started, with customers being warned of ‘severe disruption’ on two major lines.

Drivers walked out at 8.30pm as they began six months of strike action over rosters for the Night Tube service.

They will walk out every Friday and Saturday night until the summer – in a move which travel chiefs warn will cause major disruption to the Central and Victoria lines.

It follows a dispute with Sadiq Khan over rosters for the Night Tube service – which was restarted in November following its closure during the first Covid lockdown.

But drivers, who are being asked to work four night shift weekends per year, say the new rosters are ‘unfair’.

Bosses at the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) say drivers are striking ‘for progressive and family friendly working practices’.

But London Underground say the amount of night shifts was ‘fair and reasonable’ and the new rosters include assurances that there will be no job cuts.

On Friday London Minister Paul Scully described the RMT’s walkout as ‘totally unreasonable’.

But the Conservative minister also questioned Mr Khan’s ‘leadership’ in his handling of the dispute, and today urged Mr Khan to ‘thrash out’ a deal with drivers. 

Drivers are set to walk out at 8.30pm tonight to start six months of strike action over rosters for the Night Tube service. Pictured: A message from TfL posted at London Underground stations during previous strike action in November

It follows a dispute with Sadiq Khan over rosters for the Night Tube service – which was restarted in November following its closure during the first Covid lockdown

London Minister Paul Scully MP today described the RMT’s walkout as ‘totally unreasonable’, but urged Mr Khan to ‘thrash out’ a deal with drivers

Asked for his opinion on the strike action, the Tory MP told LBC: ‘It is totally unreasonable, I think the mayor needs to get back to the table with those unions and TfL to thrash this out.

‘No, he shouldn’t reverse his decision to look at the Night Tube – the Night Tube is a boom for London as we start to open up again but importantly it is vital to give people confidence of the safety and the security about moving around London late at night, especially for workers, not just people who are enjoying hospitality.

‘Workers who are maybe late workers, night workers, it gives them the security and safety to move around town.’

Asked what the ‘longest ever Tube strike’ occurring on Labour mayor Mr Khan’s watch said about his stewardship, Mr Scully replied: ‘He is good at politics, he is not good at leadership, and what we need is a strong leader in London at the moment who is tackling these industrial relations, making sure we can keep Londoners moving.’

It comes as Tube customers have been advised that the strike action could cause severe disruption on Central and Victoria line Night Tube this weekend – and until the planned strike action finishes on June 19.

A spokesperson for TfL said: ‘Both the Victoria and Central lines could be severely disrupted from 7pm onwards on Fridays and Saturdays from this weekend until 19 June. 

‘Customers are advised to check before they travel and use buses to complete their journeys where required. 

Tube customers have been advised that the strike action could cause severe disruption on Central and Victoria line Night Tube this weekend – and until the planned strike action finishes on June 19. Pictured: A sign warning of disruption due to Tube strikes in November

‘Night services on London Overground will run as planned on Friday and Saturday nights between Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate.’

Commenting on the strike, the spokesperson said:  The RMT has taken this action over new rosters, which have been agreed by the other recognised union and were introduced for Tube drivers in August.

‘This strike action has been called despite the new rosters including assurances that there will be no job cuts, providing certainty and the option of permanent work for those on part-time contracts, and only scheduling up to four night shift weekends per year. Where preferred, these night shifts can be swapped with colleagues for duties at other times of day.

‘Transport for London (TfL) is urging the RMT to join it for talks as TfL seeks to try and avoid this unnecessary action and resolve this dispute.’

But RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said union chiefs were ‘fighting for progressive and family friendly working practices’ and they were ‘available for further talks’. 

He said: ‘As the New Year gets under way our battle for workplace justice for tube staff steps up a gear with a new phase of action running from tomorrow through to the summer.

‘If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said union chiefs were ‘fighting for progressive and family friendly working practices’ and they were ‘available for further talks’

‘It’s the failure of LU and Sadiq Khan to address the grievances at the heart of the dispute that leaves us no option but to confirm the programme of action goes ahead as planned. 

‘RMT has repeatedly put forward cost neutral proposals that would repair the damage unleashed by deleting 200 driver posts and which would dig LU out of this mess. They have ignored us and that approach will have severe consequences for Londoners through to the summer.

‘We remain available for further talks.’

Night Tube services were re-introduced on the Central and Victoria lines on the evening of Saturday, November 27 after being stopped during the first Covid lockdown. 

But the new rotas sparked a dispute between drivers and TfL. On 18 December, a second 24-hour walk-out in a month caused disruption to five Tube lines throughout the day.

It followed a similar 24-hour strike on 26 November that affected six lines.

Further rounds of night-time industrial action took place on the weekends of 3, 10 and 17 December.

Andy Lord, Managing Director of London Underground, said: ‘We’re disappointed that, once again, the RMT is continuing to push for strike action that is likely to cause further unnecessary disruption. 

‘We’re calling on the RMT to join us for talks so we can work together to resolve this dispute around roster changes, which mean no job losses and greater flexibility for drivers.

‘If these six months of action do go ahead, we will continue to operate as regular a service as possible. 

‘However, customers are advised to check before they travel and use buses to complete their journeys where required. I apologise to them for the impact this unnecessary action will have on their journeys.’.

TfL says the strike affects train drivers only and stations will remain fully staffed throughout the action. 

They say plain clothes and uniformed British Transport Police officers are also patrolling the network to ensure staff and customer safety. 

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