Long-running Tube strike dispute gets ugly

Tom Edwards
Transport correspondent, London
@BBCTomEdwardson Twitter

  • Published
Police helping huge crowds of people to get on busesImage source, PA
Image caption,
Police marshalled crowds of people queuing for buses at Stratford station during the strike in July

The current Tube strike dispute over 24-hour working, staffing and pay and conditions has taken a turn for the worse.

The unions ASLEF and RMT have ramped up their action to short of a strike, and drivers are not taking out trains they say have not had proper safety checks.

London Underground (LU) has countered that and said the trains are being prepared safely, in some cases by managers.

It said it would send home any driver who refuses to take out a train.

Dramatic consequences

Today, according to ASLEF, seven Tube drivers have been sent home without pay.

That might not seem a huge development, but the consequences could be dramatic.

So what does this mean? Sending home union drivers will rapidly raise the temperature around this dispute.

Talks are deadlocked and progress has been slow.

Image source, TfL
Image caption,
The dispute is over a number of issues including pay and the Night Tube service

A 24-hour strike is planned to begin on the evening of 5 August.

Now industrial relations have got really ugly and this is yet another area that will need to be resolved.

Remember this is not just about Tube drivers.

Considerable anger

This is about all Tube employees of four unions - ASLEF, TSSA, RMT and Unite - across all grades.

And there is a lot of anger - even more now drivers have been sent home.

The issues are many and range from night working on the Tube, work-life balance, to pay and conditions, and station staff deployment following the cuts as ticket offices close as part of the Fit for Future programme.

There is also considerable anger about LU trying to change 'framework protections' - they are agreements in place about where and how staff can work.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Another strike on the London Underground is planned for 5 August

That means there are lots of areas for the talks to sort out.

If the dispute is not resolved by next Wednesday then you can easily see more strikes across the Tube network.

Commuters and politicians from all sides will want this settled.

'Safety never compromised'

Steve Griffiths, LU's chief operating officer, said: "We are working closely with the unions to resolve the dispute on pay and the Night Tube and we are committed to continuing constructive discussion.

"Safety is never compromised and the safety of our customers and staff is our top priority at all times.

"Our measures to mitigate industrial action by union members include experienced managers undertaking some of their staff's duties if required.

"Any suggestion that we would use inexperienced staff is completely false."

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