Millions face travel chaos from today as major lines run a reduced service or come to a complete standstill.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union began a series of 24-hour walkouts today over changes to staff rotas to restart the Night Tube after talks between Transport for London (TfL) and union bosses broke down.
The union said their members are being asked to work both night shifts and day shifts after dedicated night staff were axed.
The Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines were brought to a standstill at 4.30am today, causing further disruption for the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.
TfL says these lines are likely to be severely disrupted from 7pm each weekend in a major blow for December revellers.
A TfL source told the London Evening Standard yesterday that ‘not a huge amount has developed’ since the industrial action was announced, but that TfL ‘remains open to talks’ with RMT.
TfL warned of disruption to services and advised people to check before travelling.
The Night Tube has been suspended because of the pandemic and is due to restart on Friday.
The Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines were brought to a standstill at 4.30am today, causing further disruption for the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines
There will also be action on the Central and Victoria lines from 8.30pm to 4.30am on each of the intervening Saturdays and Sundays from now to December 18
Passengers leave a busy underground train still wearing their facemasks in London
What Tube lines will be affected and why are drivers going on strike?
RMT began a 24-hour walkout on the five tube lines from 4.30am on Friday, November 26.
What Tube lines will be affected?
TfL said the Tube lines will are due to be affected are:
Why are Tube drivers striking?
TfL announced that London’s Night Tube service is set to resume from November 27 on the Victoria and Central lines.
The east-west Central Line and north-south Victoria Lines were set to operate overnight on Fridays and Saturdays each week.
The RMT says the rota changes have resulted in ‘unacceptable and intolerable demands’ on its members and their work-life balance.
Underground drivers are protesting over staff rotas to restart the Night Tube, which is due to resume services late on Saturday night and into Sunday morning on the Victoria and Central lines.
TfL insists all other Tube unions agreed in May to the change in the rotas, which came after 200 Night Tube staff were integrated into TfL’s ‘day Tube’ workforce, and called the strike action ‘unnecessary’.
But RMT general secretary Mick Lynch accused Tube bosses of ‘refusing point blank to consider the serious grievances at the heart of the dispute’, but added that the union also ‘remains open for talks’.
The union says the changes have resulted in ‘unacceptable and intolerable demands’ on its members.
Similar strikes were planned during the summer over the same issue, which were called off after ‘last-ditch’ talks with TfL.
Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL are ‘confident’ of being able to restart the night services but said they may be able to run fewer Tube trains than hoped.
TfL could yet face more disruption over Christmas as the ASLEF union threatens its members could strike over changes to TfL’s pension schemes.
TfL is required to conduct a review of its pension schemes as a condition of the funding deal agreed with the Government.
ASLEF’s Tube organiser Finn Brennan said there will be ‘hard-hitting and sustained industrial action across London Underground’ if changes are forced through, though no dates have been confirmed.
Sir Brendan Barber, a former TUC general secretary and current head of ACAS, has been appointed to lead a ‘truly independent’ review of TfL’s pensions.
TfL commissioner Andy Byford said there is ‘no predetermined outcome’ of the review and has said ‘we’ll report back in due course’.
In a statement, Mr Lynch said: ‘This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success.
‘Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.
‘We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is clear that LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well being of their staff or the service to passengers.
‘This strike action, and it’s serious consequences in the run up to Christmas, was avoidable if the Tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.
‘We warned months ago that slashing two hundred Night Tube Train Driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and LU need to start facing up to that reality and soon.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, meeting members of the Battersea Power Station Community Choir, at newly opened Battersea Power Station London Underground station, south London
‘The union remains available for further talks even at this late stage.’
Nick Dent, Director of London Underground Customer Operations, said: ‘The RMT’s planned strike action is needless and it will threaten London’s recovery from the pandemic, despite no job losses and more flexibility and job certainty for drivers.
‘While every other union has agreed to these changes and our staff have been enjoying the benefits of the changes since August, we’re willing to work with the RMT and review the changes after Night Tube services have returned.
‘This review can only be successful if the RMT agrees to meet us for talks and withdraws its proposed action so we can all see how these changes will work in practice.
‘If the RMT refuses to engage with us and carries out its unnecessary action, which is timed to cause maximum disruption for our customers looking to enjoy London during the festive season, Londoners are advised to check before they travel on days of planned strike action.’