Transport for London (TfL) has threatened to side-step organised labour after union leaders walked out of Night Tube talks yesterday, delaying delivery of the 24-hour underground service indefinitely.
In a statement last night, TfL said that union leaders from Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite have “jeopardised” the Night Tube by leaving the negotiating table – and that the transport operator would instead go ahead with directly polling staff about the proposed service changes.
Drivers’ union Aslef and transport workers’ group RMT said that they had walked away because TfL was rejecting all “fair” proposals.
But TfL insisted that their pay offer was “fair and sustainable” with “cast-iron” guarantees for limiting employees’ night shifts.
Writing exclusively in City A.M., London Underground (LU) managing director Nick Brown said today: “[The unions] said it was not about the money, but about ‘work-life balance’ for staff.”
“That’s why we have made cast-iron guarantees that no one will work any more hours than they do today, drivers will have the same number of weekends off as now and, in future, staff will be able to choose whether they work Night Tube shifts at all.”
“Everyone will retain their existing generous leave entitlement and we’ve hired an extra 500 people to help deliver the new service,” he added. “We’ve also offered an inflation-protected pay deal and bonus.”
City A.M. reported more than a month ago that the Night Tube was being delayed until March of next year, but a union source said yesterday that the extended services were unlikely to go into effect at any point year.
“TfL originally moved [the launch date] from August to the end of year, but when we get into next year I think they’ll admit it won't be March either,” he said. "I'm not saying not in five years time, but there is no indication that it could happen this year or even next.”
David Leam, director for infrastructure policy at London First, told City A.M.: “This continual foot-dragging by those resistant to change is hugely frustrating for businesses and Londoners.”
“A 24 hour metro is seen as the norm in many other world cities and its about time we bring 24 hour services to London,” Leam added.
Independent research commissioned by London First and TfL found that nearly 2,000 permanent jobs would be supported by the Night Tube, generating an additional net output of £360m over 30 years.