Tube strikes cancelled after ‘intense’ talks lead to breakthrough

Strikes by London Underground staff that were due to take place next week have been called off, the RMT and Aslef union has announced.

The unions said a breakthrough had been achieved after “intense” negotiations with Transport for London (TfL) bosses in the days leading up to the walk outs.

Both the drivers union, Aslef, and the railway workers body, the RMT, were set to strike in the ongoing dispute over job losses, working conditions and pensions.

The dispute has its roots in a funding settlement between central government and City Hall when Covid slashed revenues and the government had to provide funds to keep Transport for London services running.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s organiser on the London Underground, said: “After a week of intense negotiations, we have made real progress in making sure our members’ working conditions and pensions are protected from the impact of the Tory government cuts to TfL funding.

“There will be no changes to pension benefits before the next general election. And any future changes to working conditions and agreements will only be made by negotiation. This is a major step forward.”

Union organisers are angry about a TfL’s efforts to “modernise” the transport system. Brennan previously complained that TfL was seeking to bring in a new “attendance procedure” that would be implemented from January. He claimed it would mean “no right to representation or appeal at stage one of the disciplinary process” and would result in warnings remaining on an employee’s record for a year, twice as long as at present.

“Management also want to force through their plans for what they call ‘trains modernisation’. These included driving shifts of up to ten hours and ‘flexible cover’ weeks on every roster,” he said.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, said: “There has been significant progress made by our negotiating team in ACAS talks with TfL. However this is not the end of the dispute nor is it a victory for the union as yet.

“Our members were prepared to engage in significant disruptive industrial action and I commend their resolve. RMT’s strike mandate remains live until October and we are prepared to use it if necessary.

“We will continue to negotiate in good faith as we always have done with TfL and it was only the steadfast commitment of our members in being prepared to take sustained strike action that has forced the employer to make significant concessions. Our campaign to defend jobs, conditions and our members pensions will continue in the coming weeks and months.”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, thanked the unions, adding: “Negotiations are what it is all about. Our transport workers were heroes during the pandemic keeping transport going to allow key workers to get to work.”

Glynn Barton, chief operating officer of TfL, said: “This is good news for London and we will continue to work closely with our trade unions to discuss the issues and seek a resolution.”

Muniya Barua, Deputy Chief Executive at BusinessLDN, added their thoughts, saying: “The decision to call off planned strikes on the Tube next week will help to brighten the mood across London as the summer holiday season gets started. Londoners, businesses and tourists will welcome this step forward. We hope this breakthrough means the capital will be spared the prospect of further strike action which would cause huge disruption.”

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Tube strikes cancelled after ‘intense’ talks lead to breakthrough

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