10 December 2021
RMT Press Office
As Night Tube action goes ahead again this evening RMT calls on Mayor to step in and resolve escalating disputes on London Underground
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has today written to the Mayor of London calling on him to use his political leadership to resolve the bitter dispute over the Night Tube and reverse station staff job cuts that risk the future of the Underground.
As the capital heads for a third weekend of action on the Night Tube following the failure of ACAS talks, Mr Lynch’s letter expresses frustration that London Underground managers persist in refusing RMT’s ‘reasonable and costed offer’ even though prolonging the dispute will soon cost LU more in lost passenger revenue than implementing the offer and resolving it:
“It appears to me that LU managers have got themselves into a difficult position for reasons that are not entirely clear but which they are finding it hard to publicly climb down from and it’s for this reason that Londoners will have to endure another round of strike action over the Night Tube. This is not a sensible way to conduct industrial relations on the Tube.”
The letter also calls on the Mayor to step in and reverse LU’s plans to cut 600 station staff jobs, pointing out that TfL’s own research shows there is a growing crisis of anti-social behaviour and crime on the Tube which is damaging passenger confidence and that staff are the key to rebuilding that confidence:
“The cuts announced by London Underground are exactly the wrong response to this issue. They will leave passengers – especially women and girls – more vulnerable, they will further damage passenger confidence and they will increase lone working for my members, putting them at even greater risk.”
The letter can be read in full below:
I’m writing to ask you to protect passenger and workers’ safety on London Underground by urgently intervening to assist in resolving the Night Tube dispute and to take action to stop the cutting of hundreds of frontline job cuts that will place passengers and staff at greater risk.
As you know, London Underground have broken previous agreements on the operation of the Night Tube and are seeking to impose night working on key workers. Now the same key workers who will now be expected to keep the capital moving through the growing Omicron pandemic are also facing hundreds of job cuts. I hope you will agree this is utterly unacceptable.
In our efforts to resolve the Night Tube dispute we have met at ACAS on several occasions and we have repeatedly made an offer which we believe can settle it. We have offered to suspend the action on the condition that we get a written assurance that London Underground will recruit 200 new part-time Night Tube drivers and return to the 2016 Agreement that ensured that no Train Operator working standard tube shifts would be compelled to work night shifts on the Night Tube nor would they have to do more weekend working.
Subject to that assurance, RMT has offered to operate the disputed rosters on a temporary basis. We have also offered greater flexibility to allow Train Operators to pick up shifts on the Night Tube on a voluntary basis where it suits both parties. We believe this offer balances the principled defence of the need to preserve a work-life balance, the need to ensure that shift patterns embody safe working practices and the need to resolve this dispute.
London Underground have admitted that this is an improved offer. They have previously stated that it would not cost more to run and their refusal to settle this dispute will shortly have cost it more in lost passenger revenue than what it would cost to train up 200 Night Tube drivers.
I confess I am struggling to understand why London Underground will not move on this reasonable, costed offer. It appears to me that LU managers have got themselves into a difficult position for reasons that are not entirely clear but which they are finding it hard to publicly climb down from and it’s for this reason that Londoners will have to endure another round of strike action over the Night Tube. This is not a sensible way to conduct industrial relations on the Tube.
We have been to ACAS and we are ready to go back if it helps but I believe that the time has come for some political leadership from you as Mayor.
I would also reiterate my call, echoed by members of the TfL Board yesterday, for you to reverse London Underground’s decision to cut 600 station staff jobs.
We all know that cutting these jobs is wrong. Transport for London knows it’s wrong because its own research, mirroring that of Transport Focus, shows that station staff are crucial to passenger safety and confidence and will be essential to rebuilding ridership on the Underground. TfL’s own research shows that there is a growing problem with anti-social behaviour and crime on the Underground which is having a scarring effect on passenger confidence. By TfL’s data 1 in 3 passengers have reported that they are worried using public transport as a consequence of an incident. 9% reported that they have been deterred from using public transport as a result of an incident.
I would also point out that much of the violence and harassment of people on the Underground is levelled at my members, a shocking number of whom report violence or sexual harassment at work.
No one wants this and we all need to work together to reverse it. The cuts announced by London Underground are exactly the wrong response to this issue. They will leave passengers – especially women and girls – more vulnerable, they will further damage passenger confidence and they will increase lone working for my members, putting them at even greater risk. This decision should be reversed, not just because it will further damage industrial relations on the tube but also because it risks the entire future of the Underground.
RMT General Secretary