Commuters face Tube chaos as TfL workers vote on industrial action

Commuters face Tube chaos as TfL workers vote on industrial action

Commuters face fresh Tube chaos this summer as TfL workers in London vote on industrial action in dispute over pensions

  • Members of Unite the Union will vote on whether to strike during the summer
  • Workers were told their pensions will be cut and final salary pensions ended
  • It comes after a review demanded by central government  in return for funding 
  • The RMT union says it is considering the biggest railway strike in modern history

Commuters in London could face fresh Tube chaos this summer after it was announced workers will vote on whether to strike in a dispute over pensions. 

Members of Unite the Union employed at Transport for London (TfL) and London Underground will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action. 

The union said workers have been told that the value of their pensions will be cut and a final salary scheme will end following a central government-demanded review in return for pandemic-recovery funding. 

Unite regional officer Simon McCartney said: ‘Our members are dedicated to keeping London moving. 

Commuters in London could face more tube chaos in summer with members of Unite the Union set to vote on whether to hold industrial action in a row over pensions

It comes less than two months after the Tube network was hit with four days of disruption when members of the RMT union walked out on strike

‘Now they are being told that they will be poorer in old age. This is an appalling way to treat a loyal and committed workforce.

‘Workers are balloting for industrial action as a last resort. Despite repeated calls to management there have been no guarantees on pensions or job cuts.

‘Strike action would inevitably cause severe disruption to public transport throughout London.’

Unite’s members at TfL are spread across different parts of the organisation including Dial-a Ride, London Underground and Croydon trams.

The union said its members are also in dispute over pay and the threat of job losses.

The ballot will close on May 26. If members vote in favour of industrial action, strikes could begin by mid-June, although Unite said action is likely to be co-ordinated with other unions who also have members in TfL.

If members vote in favour of industrial action when the ballot closes on May 26 the strikes could begin by mid-June

Unite said workers have been told that the value of their pensions will be cut and a final salary scheme will end following a central government-demanded review in return for pandemic-recovery funding 

It comes after the Tube network was hit by four days of traffic chaos at the start of March, when members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out in a row over potential job losses and reductions in pensions and working conditions. 

And today the same union threatened to stage the biggest railway strike in modern history, with 40,000 workers set to vote on whether to strike in June in a row over jobs and pay.  

The RMT is considering bringing 15 train services across the country including Govia Thameslink Railway, Avanti West Coast, and West Midlands Trains to a grinding halt.

The union has blamed Network Rail’s planned to cut at least 2,500 safety-critical maintenance jobs as part of a £2 billion reduction in spending on the network.  

RMT has also taken aim at train operators looking to freeze pay to combat the lowest passenger numbers in over 150 years.

The ballot of the 40,000 train workers opens on April 26 and closes on May 24 so strike action could begin in June.

It comes the same day that the RMT announced it could launch the biggest railway workers strike in modern history when 40,000 members vote on industrial action as part of a dispute with Network Rail

Families and commuters also could be hit by huge disruptions on the London Underground and some airports as unionised workers at these services also consider strikes.

Industrial action in London on the Central and Victoria lines every Friday and Saturday is ongoing after the capital was nearly shut down in March by an ongoing row over pensions.

This all comes as nearly 500,000 bins are set to not be collected as the result of strike action during April and May and Post Office workers are set for a walk-out next month.  

The RMT this month also caused a limited service of the TransPennine Express, whose members are also considering the June walk-out, due to strikes over Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

More strikes on this service, which operate the Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow routes, are planned for all Sundays until June and the 16 and 17 April, 30 April and 1 May and 4 May and 5 June.

 With further travel chaos in the summer looming, Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s regional director, said: ‘Our railway has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and even as passenger numbers start to recover, we know travel habits and passenger demand have changed and the industry has to change too.

‘We cannot keep relying on Government handouts, and so we must work together with train operators and our trades unions to save millions of pounds and deliver a more efficient railway.

‘Our modernisation programme aims to build a sustainable future that delivers for passengers and creates better and safer jobs for our people.

‘We are disappointed that the RMT has taken this decision and urge them again to work with us, not against us, as we build an affordable railway fit for the future.’

Mr Shoveller added: ‘We would not consider any changes that would make the railway less safe.’

Full list of train lines that could come to halt if RMT strike goes ahead  

  • Chiltern Railways 
  • Cross Country Trains
  • Greater Anglia 
  • LNER
  • East Midlands Railway
  • c2c
  • Great Western Railway 
  • Northern Trains
  • South Eastern Railway
  • South Western Railway Island Line
  • Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) which includes Gatwick Express
  • Transpennine Express
  • Avanti West Coast
  • West Midlands Train
  • Network Rail 

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and the British rail industry, said it has faced ‘unprecedented shock’ to the sector since Covid.

A spokesperson for the RDG said: ‘The pandemic was an unprecedented shock for the railway, with the lowest passenger numbers in over 150 years and record levels of public funding to keep it running.

‘Our whole focus now should be securing a thriving future for rail that adapts to new travel patterns and takes no more than its fair share from taxpayers, instead of staging premature industrial action which would disrupt passengers’ lives and put the industry’s recovery at risk.’  

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Railway workers have had to contend with pay freezes, the prospect of losing their jobs and repeated attacks on their terms and conditions.

‘Removing 2,500 safety-critical jobs from Network Rail will spell disaster for the public, make accidents more likely and will increase the possibility of trains flying off the tracks.

‘The way for trade unions to effectively take on the cost-of-living crisis is to stand up for their members at work and take industrial action when employers are not moved by the force of reasoned argument.

‘A national rail strike will bring the country to a standstill, but our members’ livelihoods and passenger safety are our priorities.’

The ballot which opens on April 26 and closes on May 24 will be among RMT members on lines such as East Midlands Railway, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, Island Line, and West Midlands Trains.

RMT members employed by contractors Churchill to clean trains will also walk out from 27 April to 7 May on Govia Thameslink, Eurostar, Southeastern and HS1.

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