Rail union RMT is going ahead with strikes on five major underground lines this weekend, despite pleas from Transport for London (TfL) to suspend the protests as millions of Londoners race to get Covid-19 boosters in the run up to Christmas.
Strikes will go ahead on the Central, Northern, Jubilee, Picadilly and Victoria lines tomorrow night, on the Saturday before Christmas.
Both parties have been embroiled in an escalating row over the terms of re-introducing the Night Tube this winter.
Train drivers are upset about the lack of work-life balance in the current the night service plans.
The UK reported a daily record of 93,045 Covid-19 cases, including over three thousand highly infectious Omicron cases – which is set to become the dominant variant within a matter of weeks.
Double doses of Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines are much less effective against the highly transmissible Omicron variant, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a national effort to offer a booster to every adult in the UK by the end of the year.
In a last ditch bid to prevent industrial action, TfL’s managing director Andy Lord urged RMT to call of strikes over Christmas so that millions of people could use the services to go to mass vaccination centres across the capital.
Lord wanted both parties to “put their differences to one side so that we can respond as our city needs us to in light of the current health emergency.”
He argued it was important “we do what is right for London”.
RMT rubbished the proposal – with the union furious over TfL’s “outrageous attempt to use the pandemic to bully staff”.
General Secretary Mick Lynch was “angry and disappointed” that proposals made by the union about the night service continued to fall on deaf ears, which would have suspended the strikes.
He also slammed London Underground’s management for citing the pandemic in an attempt to quash the strikes.
Lynch said: “The anger of our members and reps has been compounded by a cynical last ditch attempt by London Underground managers to use the pandemic to bully and blackmail staff – the same front line tube staff who have put themselves at personal risk to keep London moving since the COVID crisis emerged nearly two years ago.”