Sadiq Khan has hit out at the UK’s largest rail union for its planned Tube strike tomorrow, saying that the long-term industrial action will “cause further devastation” for London’s economy.
London Underground staff from the The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) will walk off the job on Friday and Saturday evenings from tomorrow until June in what will be the longest Tube strike in history.
The strike is in response to driver anger over having to work night shifts to cater for the partial resumption of the Night Tube.
Khan today urged RMT bosses to come back to the table and to call off the industrial action.
“This continuing strike action by RMT has caused widespread disruption for many Londoners and will cause further devastation for the city’s hard-hit retail, cultural and hospitality sectors at a crucial time if it continues until the summer,” he said.
“The Night Tube has an important part to play in our capital’s recovery and helps to improve safety for women and girls making their way home at night.
“The reopening of the Night Tube has been agreed by the other recognised union, and TfL have repeatedly made clear they are willing to talk with the RMT through conciliation service ACAS on this issue. I urge the RMT to come back to the table and prevent more months of turmoil for Londoners.”
TfL scrapped the 200 part-time Night Tube drivers during the pandemic, with regular drivers now asked to work occasional night shifts instead.
The changes would mean that drivers have to take on up to four night shifts per year.
The Night Tube in its current form runs through the night on Fridays and Saturdays on the Central and Victoria lines.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family-friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.
“It’s the failure of London Underground and Sadiq Khan to address the grievances at the heart of the dispute that leaves us no option but to confirm the programme of action goes ahead as planned.”
New West End Company, a lobby that represents businesses in the West End of London, told the Standard that the strikes would come “at a critical point when many businesses will be looking to recover from the impact of the pandemic”.
“We strongly encourage RMT to call off these strikes in order to give viable hospitality businesses in the capital the best possible chance of survival,” the group said.