Mayor of London slammed over RMT union's planned Tube strikes on Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines

Caitlin Morrison
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A Circle Line train enters a tunnel
There will be a reduced service on the Circle Line and the Hammersmith & City Line due to a strike (Source: Getty)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been slammed today over his lack of response to a Tube strike planned by drivers on the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines, due to start tonight.

The RMT union said this morning that, following an "overwhelming vote for action" by drivers who are union members, 24 hours of strike action will go ahead from this evening. The RMT members concerned will not book on for any shifts starting from 21:30 tonight until 21:29 tomorrow evening.

However, Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince has slammed the mayor for "keeping quiet" about the strikes - and pointed out that the strike is going ahead despite just 16 per cent of drivers voting for action.

"Sadiq Khan promised ‘zero days of strikes’ during his mayoralty so it’s extremely disappointing that he’s chalked up yet another U-turn in just over four months since he took office," Prince said.

"The mayor should apologise to Londoners, condemn these strikes and back action that would actually end strikes on London’s public transport."

Prince added: “It’s worth noting that the mayor chose not to mention this strike at yesterday’s mayor’s Question Time before he slipped out of the country. Perhaps he felt unable to face questions over the fact London’s transport network is again being held to ransom by just 43 of 265 drivers on the network who voted for strike action.

"For all his big words during the campaign, it’s notable that the mayor has repeatedly refused to condemn the strikes on Southern Rail and now he has nothing to say on strike action where the buck stops with him.”

However, a spokesman for RMT said: "The Tory figures are complete nonsense. The turnout in the ballot at both driver depots among RMT driver members was 60 per cent and the number of those voting for action was 86 per cent. The numbers outstrip the thresholds erected in the Tory party’s own Trade Union Act and their London Assembly members would be well advised to check their facts before sticking the boot in."

A spokesperson for Khan said: “The mayor is urging the RMT to work with TfL to find a resolution to this situation so that passengers on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines do not face disruption to their services”.

Summer of strikes

Londoners have faced a number of strikes over recent months

Why they're striking

RMT said the dispute planned for this evening is over "heavy-handed and aggressive management, including putting staff toilet breaks on a stop watch, and a flagrant disregard for agreed policies and procedures".

"This dispute is about the basic issues of protecting working conditions of our members and defending agreements from attempts to drive a coach and horses through them," said RMT general secretary Mick Cash.

"The management are out of control and the anger at their failure to follow procedures has boiled over. This breakdown in industrial relations should never have been allowed to happen and if agreements and processes had been adhered to from the off the package of issues at the heart of the dispute could have been resolved through the joint machinery."

What London Underground reckons

In response, Steve White, operations director for London Underground, said: “We completely understand that sometimes drivers need to take a break during their driving duties to go to the toilet. But it has become clear that a minority are taking breaks of an hour or more and calling them toilet breaks.

"This has a direct impact on customers, with some trains being cancelled, and also on their fellow drivers who are having to cover for them."

White added: "The suggestion that we are timing toilet breaks and asking intrusive questions is absolutely not true. That would be neither dignified nor reasonable. We are trying to support our staff – offering help through our occupational health team if a driver has health issues which requires them to take long breaks.

“We hope that the RMT will work with us to resolve the issues and call off the action so that our passengers are not needlessly disrupted.”

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