Strike threat as London Underground reveals plans to cut 600 jobs

Tube users face threat of strikes as cash-strapped London Underground reveals plans to cut up to 600 jobs after passenger numbers slumped due to Covid

  • As many as 600 jobs could be cut as the London Underground tries to save cash 
  • Unions attacked the news, with RMT union confirming plans for a strike ballot 
  • London Underground bosses say that the pandemic has decimated finances 

London Underground users are facing the threat of strikes after tube bosses revealed plans to cut hundreds of jobs.

Between 500 and 600 posts are threatened, with LU saying the impact of the pandemic on its finances has made a programme of change ‘urgently necessary’.

Unions attacked the news, with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) confirming plans for a strike ballot.

The RMT said it will ballot 10,000 of its members for strikes, with the result known early in the new year. 

Meanwhile, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association called the cuts ‘completely unacceptable’ and the pre-Christmas timing ‘shameful’. 

People at London Bride Underground Station on the Jubilee line. Commuters face further disruption as unions vowed to strike following London Underground job cuts

The RMT said it will ballot 10,000 of its members for strikes, with the result known early in the new year. Strikes last week over a rota dispute saw intense disruption

Nick Dent, London Underground’s director of customer operations, said: ‘We have been engaging with our trade unions and our staff to seek their views on how we can make LU more efficient and financially sustainable, while continuing to deliver the highest standards of safety, reliability and customer service.

‘We have now begun consulting with our trade unions on proposals to change the way we work in the Customer Service area of LU.

‘We remain completely committed to retaining our customer service offer, with stations staffed at all times while trains are operating.

‘The safety and security of customers and colleagues is still our top priority, and we will ensure in all circumstances our staff will continue to be visible and available to help customers at all times – including offering the on-demand Turn Up and Go service to assist disabled customers.

‘Changes will be closely monitored to ensure that the highest levels of safety and customer service continue to be met. The discussions are at an early stage, and we will continue to work with our employees and trade union colleagues as proposals are developed.’ 

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘A financial crisis at Transport for London has been deliberately engineered by the Government to drive a cuts agenda which would savage jobs, services, safety and threaten the working conditions and pensions of our members.

‘Today we have seen the opening salvo in what will become an all-out assault on safety critical staff posts with 600 jobs on the block, mainly amongst our station members.

What Tube lines will be affected and why are drivers going on strike? 

What’s happening? 

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:

  • 4:30am 26 November – 4:29am 27 November (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria)
  • 8:30pm 27 November – 4:29am 28 November (Central & Victoria) 
  • 8:30pm 3 December – 4:29am 4 December (Central & Victoria) 
  • 8:30pm 4 December – 4:29am 5 December (Central & Victoria) 
  • 8:30pm 10 December – 4:29am 11 December (Central & Victoria) 
  • 8:30pm 11 December – 4:29am 12 December (Central & Victoria) 
  • 8:30pm 17 December – 4:29am 18 December (Central & Victoria) 
  • 4:30am 18 December – 4:29am 19 December (Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly & Victoria) 

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. 

‘The ballot opens on Monday and we will be campaigning for a massive yes vote. The politicians need to wake up to the fact that transport staff will not pay the price for this cynically engineered crisis and we will coordinate a campaign of resistance with colleagues from other unions impacted by this threat.’

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) called the cuts ‘completely unacceptable’ and the pre-Christmas timing ‘shameful’.

Lorraine Ward, the union’s organising director, said: ‘We need to encourage more people onto public transport, but cutting station staff will damage that effort.

‘Staff are already fearful for their futures and the way that London Underground has snuck this out just weeks before Christmas is shameful.

‘TSSA will fight these job losses and stand up for our members and passengers. We are totally opposed to any job cuts across London Underground and TfL.’

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes added: ‘The Tories must stop playing political football with public transport in our capital city.

‘Government must provide – as is the case for major cities across the world – the Mayor the funds he needs to keep services running and safe staffing levels at all stations.’

Last week, millions faced travel chaos as major lines ran a reduced service or came to a complete standstill after RMT union members began a series of 24-hour walkouts over changes to staff rotas to restart the Night Tube.

The walkouts came after talks between Transport for London (TfL) and union bosses broke down.

TfL says these lines are likely to be severely disrupted from 7pm each weekend in a major blow for December revellers. 

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, causing further disruption for the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.

In May, it was announced that Transport for London (TfL) secured another £65million bailout to keep Underground, bus and train services running for another 10 days.

The Government provided TfL £3billion in emergency funding during the pandemic as passenger numbers on Tubes and buses in London collapsed last year, decimating the operator’s finances.

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