Socialist Worker

Tube workers set for festive season of strikes over Night Tube

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2781

Tube workers have a record on string strikes, such as this 2020 action

Tube workers have a record of strong strikes, such as this 2020 action (Pic: Guy Smallman)

London Underground workers in the RMT union are set for major strikes over management’s unreasonable demands on staff in advance of the Night Tube reopening.

Bosses want to ram through extra nighttime and weekend work. The Night Tube had been due to restart on the weekend of 27 November, although only with on two of its five lines, the Victoria and Central.

The strikes will confront that plan.

Drivers who work on the Night Tube lines—Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria—will stop work for 24 four hours from 4.30am on 26 November.

They will walk out again for 24 hours on 18 December, the last Saturday before Christmas.

On top of this action, workers on the Central and Victoria lines will strike from 8.30pm to 4.30am on 28 November and 4, 5, 11, and 12 December


RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “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.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is shamelessly backing management and the companies who want to see “business as usual” in London.

Khan said, “I know how important the return of the Night Tube is to London's night-time economy, to our city's recovery and to the confidence and safety of everyone travelling home at night, particularly women and girls.”

The RMT is for re-opening the Night Tube. But not at the cost of workers’ conditions.

Cuts and shifting Covid-19 rules led to attacks on tube workers
Cuts and shifting Covid-19 rules led to attacks on tube workers
  Read More

Before the pandemic, the Night Tube used about 200 part-time staff. But these posts were then removed and Night Tube drivers were integrated into the regular Tube workforce. Bosses are now telling workers they must do Night Tube shifts, disrupting their work-life balance.

RMT London has done a survey that shows the large majority of workers won't volunteer for Night Tube. That points towards the shifts becoming compulsory. 

Lynch is right to say, “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.”

It's Tube bosses who are blocking safe transport, not workers.

This RMT strike plan comes just after tube drivers in the Aslef union voted 99 percent to strike against changes to their contracts that will cut pensions and worsen working conditions.

United and escalating action can guarantee success. Union leaders should encourage their members to respect picket pines, whichever union is on strike.

Previous strikes have seen excellent examples of workers uniting in action, and it is a basic element of solidarity.

Tweet solidarity to @RMTLondon RMT strike special leaflet here


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