London Underground faces summer of strikes as Tube workers vote for walkouts

24 June 2022, 12:29

Londoners face more Tube strikes
Londoners face more Tube strikes. Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

London Underground workers threatened a new wave of summer strikes in an ongoing dispute over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions.

As millions of hard-pressed travellers endured another day of disruption due to this week's train strike, members of the RMT voted 'yes' in a ballot over prolonging their ongoing campaign for job security.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union have taken strike action on the Tube in recent weeks, including a 24-hour walkout on Tuesday.

This was on top of the separate RMT strike against Network Rail and 13 train operators across the UK that took place on Tuesday and yesterday with another walkout due tomorrow.

By law, the RMT had to reballot its members on the Underground, with the union saying there was a 'decisive' result in favour with more than 90 per cent of those who voted backing industrial action on a 53.1 per cent turnout.

No new strike dates have been set, but they will be decided by the union's executive in due course –increasing the threat of disruption to services over the summer amid growing disputes across the industry. 

RMT leader Mick Lynch on a picket line this week
RMT leader Mick Lynch on a picket line this week. Picture: Alamy
Locked underground station
Locked underground station. Picture: Alamy

It comes as another union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), served notice to ballot its members at Greater Anglia for strike action and action short of strike over pay, conditions and job security.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch confirmed that the union would "take a pause next week and consider everything", adding that a strike by managers involved with the TSSA could see more workers enter the dispute.

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Meanwhile there were slim hopes today that future Tube strikes could be averted - following four walkouts in the past three months - after Sadiq Khan suggested that he accepted the union's demands not to cut pensions.

The London Mayor said he was "not persuaded" that "final salary" pension scheme run by Transport for London, which cost the operator £401million in contributions last year, should have its benefits altered.

The pensions issue is a major concern to the RMT along with pay rises and a cut of 600 station staff jobs. The union has already walked out on the Tube in recent months on March 1 and 3 and June 6, as well as on Tuesday.

But Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince said: "It's disgraceful if Sadiq Khan decides he'd prefer to cut bus routes and other TfL services than save £182 million per year by reforming TfL pensions."

It comes after TfL received a three-week extension to its current Government Covid bailout.

Speaking about the prospect of future Tube strikes and the latest ballot, Mr Lynch said: "This is a fantastic result for our members and proves that the arguments RMT has been making is endorsed by Tube workers.

"Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London need to seriously re-think their plans for hundreds of job cuts and trying to take hard-earned pensions from workers who serve the people of London on a daily basis. We are acutely aware of the funding cuts being foisted on TfL by the Westminster government.

"However, Mayor Sadiq Khan needs to mount a serious campaign for the people of London, to get the capital city the funding it deserves for its public transport. He should not be trying to sacrifice our members' pensions and jobs to fit within budget restraints laid down by (Prime Minister) Boris Johnson."

But Andy Lord, TfL's chief operating officer, said: "We are disappointed that the RMT has achieved a mandate for further strike action. As a result of the pandemic and its impact on TfL finances, we have to become more efficient.

"To continue delivering for London and supporting our staff, we have worked with trade unions and staff over the past year to develop plans to adapt to these challenges.'

"There are no proposals to change pensions or terms and conditions and our proposals will ensure any reduction in roles is achieved through vacancy management, in line with our no compulsory redundancy agreement. We're calling on the RMT to continue working with us."