Wednesday 26 October 2016 11:50 am

Combined Tube and Southern strike action to set up Christmas chaos

More good news for Christmas commuters: not only has the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union confirmed it will ballot 3,500 London Underground workers for strike action, it’s also balloting drivers on Southern Rail.

The ballot will open next Friday on the 4 November and close on the 18 November, mirroring the timetable planned for Aslef union’s ballot. Aslef's dispute with Southern revolves around its belief that there should be no introduction or extension of new driver-only operated routes on Southern, without the agreement of the union.

Both unions are predicting overwhelming support for the strike calls and if workers do vote in favour, it could mean combined strike action on both the Tube and mainline rail in the run-up to the festive period.

Mark Wild, London Underground's managing director, said: "The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority and our hardworking people ensure that London Underground remains one of the safest metros in the world. An independent review of the closure of ticket offices is being conducted by London TravelWatch to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality customer service."

Read more: Southern Rail commuters had very British responses to today's train chaos

RMT leaders announced earlier today that the union was beginning a strike ballot among nearly 3,500 Tube staff next week (with the result on 15 November). The RMT’s balloting of London Underground workers is over a row over jobs and safety – put “back at the top of the agenda” following last week’s security incident at North Greenwich station.

Southern Rail driver members are being balloted about the ongoing dispute over changes to the role of the guard and increased driver-only operated trains. Train drivers’ union Aslef controls the majority of drivers and with RMT’s contribution, a total shutdown of Southern Rail could be on the cards.

Southern strikes are currently planned from 4-5 November, 22-23 November and 6-8 December, after a request from the British Legion resulted in the RMT suspending one planned for the 3 November. That’s the date of this year’s London Poppy Day.

Read more: Southern rail operator Govia bills Network Rail for more than £48m

"This decision has been made after close consideration and following a personal request from the British Legion," said RMT general secretary Mick Cash.

"The union recognises the very special importance of that particular day and as result has agreed to suspend the action planned for 3 November. The rest of the scheduled action goes ahead‎ as planned."