London facing more Night Tube strikes as unions threaten action - while insiders believe project will "wither on the vine"

 
Catherine Neilan
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London Underground Staff Hold A 24 Hour Strike Over Roster Changes
Londoners saw numerous strikes over the proposed Night Tube last year (Source: Getty)

Commuters are facing the prospect of more Tube strikes this year, after the dispute over the Night Tube flared up once again – with one union source telling City A.M. that the project may never get off the ground.

Transport unions RMT and Aslef have both flexed their muscles with threats of further industrial action over disputes regarding the 24-hour service. Both groups claim TfL has refused to meet with reps over the issues – largely centring on pay and guarantees of “work-life balance” - since November.

“It's the belief in many quarters that [the Night Tube] will all be dropped in May when Boris [Johnson] leaves City Hall,” a union source told City A.M. “The new Mayor won't want to go there – why irritate people and put TfL under greater difficulty at a time when it is already under a lot of pressure? We suspect nothing will happen before May, and then it will be left to wither on the vine.”

But TfL insists the transport network was fully committed to the launch, noting that it was in the process of hiring 180 part-time workers to get the Night Tube up and running without having to rely on existing Tube staff.

"We are recruiting extra drivers specifically to operate the Night Tube so that existing drivers do not have to work Night Tube shifts if they don’t want to," said TfL's chief operating officer Steve Griffiths.

"We are now focused on the recruitment and training of these drivers in order to deliver the Night Tube for London as quickly as possible.”

Around 5,500 people have applied for the roles – roughly 30 for every post. But a TfL spokeswoman acknowledged training would take 12-16 weeks, meaning the Night Tube is still at least three months away from implementation.

WHAT’S ON THE TABLE FROM TFL

  • TfL’s current offer for a four-year pay deal includes pay rises of two per cent for the first year, the greater of either one per cent or RPI in years two and three, and RPI plus 0.25 per cent in year four.
  • All Night Tube staff will also receive £500, but the £200 bonus per shift has been rescinded due to the part-time positions.

  • Tube drivers' basic salary starts at £49,673 a year. Instructor operators are paid £51,800.

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