London Transport Commissioner Andy Byford said: “We are very disappointed that the RMT has announced strike action on the London Underground and Overground. We have not yet received any official notification of this action from the RMT.
“We urge them to withdraw this action and continue to work with us and Arrival Rail London, the operator of the London Underground, to avoid disruption for our customers.
“Regarding the London Underground dispute, there are no changes to TfL pensions and no proposals for changes as a result of this recent submission.
“Securing a workable funding agreement with the Government was of absolute importance for the future of London’s transport network and everyone working at TfL. This recent submission to government meets the requirements of the funding agreement. In developing these options, we were clear that if any change was to be made, it would require proper consultation and further work before any decisions could be made.”
What do the unions think?
RMT and TSSA members are at loggerheads over pay and plans for sweeping reforms to working practices.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The summer of solidarity we have witnessed will continue into the autumn and winter if employers and government continue to deny workers reasonable demands.
“We want a settlement of these disputes where our members and their families can reach the right agreement. And we will not rest until we achieve a satisfactory result.”
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “Our members never take industrial action lightly. We would much prefer to find a fair, negotiated solution to this long-running dispute, but we simply have no other choice.
“I hope whoever Rishi Sunak appoints as the new Secretary of State for Transport will understand, unlike Grant Shapps, and use his powers to demand a fair pay rise, reasonable terms and conditions and end this dispute.”
What is it about?
During the pandemic, the government was forced to intervene to keep public transport running. On the railway and subway – on the basis more solutions for Transport for London – this has cost the taxpayer over £16 billion.
Public transport is undoubtedly busier, but the pandemic has permanently changed travel patterns. For example, rail chiefs believe there is now a permanent £2billion hole in annual budgets because one-off drivers work from home or travel at cheaper off-peak times.
Ever since privatization in the mid-1990s, the railways have suffered from union resistance to changes in working practices.
Railroad executives believe that costs can be significantly reduced by offering thousands of workers voluntary redundancies, changing outdated work practices and increasing the use of technology.
The battle is an existential one for unions like the RMT, whose power has been weakened by the reforms.
Could things get any worse?
yes The Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport are continuing with plans to introduce a minimum level of service on the railways.
A government source said at the weekend: “The government has committed to introducing minimum service levels. As we’ve seen all too often in recent months, it’s wrong that strikes keep hard-working people and families across the country from having access to work, doctor visits, and school.
“That’s why we’re introducing this legislation to keep Britain moving, to ensure people can get to work, earn their own living and grow the economy.”
Aslef scoffed at the plans. Mr Whelan said: “The problem is Truss doesn’t understand how the railway works.
“Rail companies don’t want to implement a minimum service level because they know it’s a stupid idea. What happens when 100% of passengers try to get on trains with a minimum of 40% service? It will look like in Japan, where people are treated like cattle. And the fleet will be in the wrong place the next day. Which will mess up the normal schedule.
“The government claims that similar legislation exists in other European countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yes, it’s true. But what the government doesn’t know – or won’t say – is that it’s not being implemented. Because they know it doesn’t work.”
But there is always hope…
Industrial disputes regularly end when the two sides appear to be at a complete impasse. The rhetoric, especially from union leaders, often does not reflect the more cordial discussions that take place behind the scenes.
Industry sources have repeatedly said that negotiators in the room reached an agreement in principle, only to have it overturned after an inspection by union leadership.