STRIKES have been called by the RMT on London's Night Tube lines later this month and during December, stalling the planned relaunch which had been timed to coincide with the run-up to Christmas.
The dispute will mainly affect overnight trains on the Central and Victoria Lines on Friday and Saturday nights, and is over what the union described as the 'imposition of impossible and unreasonable demands on staff in advance of Night Tube reopening'.
The walkouts are set to be staged on 26-27 and 27-28 November and 3-4, 4-5, 10-11, 11-12, 17-18 and 18-19 December. In each case staff are being instructed not to book on for any duties which start between 20.30 each night and 04.29 the following morning. The strikes on 26-27 November and 18-19 December will also affect the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines.
The RMT's general secretary Mick Lynch said: 'We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks to resolve this dispute but it is clear that LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well being of their staff or the service to passengers. We will take no lectures from LU on safety as no one has worked harder to ensure a safe environment for women on London Underground than the RMT. While Tube bosses have axed staff and left stations routinely unstaffed, with all of the obvious risks, we have campaigned relentlessly for the front line, physical presence of visible staff on stations and platforms. LU have ignored us as cuts come first.
'We are now being repaid by the imposition of working arrangements that would wreck the work-life balance of our members. No one should underestimate the anger this issue has generated amongst drivers. All of this was avoidable if the Tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.'
TfL warned that on strike days services on the affected lines were expected to be 'severely disrupted' from 19.00 onwards, while daytime frequencies on those lines could also be reduced, 'with little or no service in places'
London Underground's director of customer operations Nick Dent said: 'At such a pivotal time for the capital’s recovery, we are hugely disappointed that the RMT is threatening London with this unnecessary action. By making changes to Tube driver rosters, we have provided greater flexibility for drivers as well as permanent work and job certainty, something welcomed by all other unions.
'The return of Night Tube is a hugely significant moment for the night-time economy and for Londoners travelling late at night who will have improved journey times and an additional safe travel option. We have been meeting with the RMT for a number of months through ACAS to try and resolve their issues and we remain open to talking further.'