London Underground workers vote for more strikes | london underground
London Underground staff from the RMT union have voted to continue strikes in a dispute over pensions and job cuts, which could add to the disruption of a summer of industrial action on the transport network .
More than 90% of union members on the Tube who voted, with a turnout of 53%, backed further walkouts, as RMT management continued to discuss with Network Rail and the rail operating companies to resolve the national rail impasse.
The RMT has been legally required to win support to renew its strike mandate, after Tuesday’s latest 24-hour shutdown shut down virtually all metro services in the capital.
Transport for London (TfL) is seeking to cut just over 10% of frontline staff by not filling vacancies as they arise, as well as overhauling the pension scheme – a condition emergency funding agreed with the Department for Transport (DfT) after tariff revenue dried up during the pandemic.
The DfT this week offered a further funding extension until July 13, frustrating attempts by TfL and Sadiq Khan to strike a long-term deal, with the deadline for funding support otherwise expiring tonight.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said the vote “proves that the RMT’s arguments [are] endorsed by tube workers,” adding that “TfL and the Mayor of London need to seriously rethink their plans.”
He added: “We are fully aware of the funding cuts imposed on TfL by the government in Westminster. However, Mayor Sadiq Khan…should not try to sacrifice our members’ pensions and jobs to meet the budgetary restrictions imposed by Boris Johnson.
Andy Lord, TfL’s chief operating officer, said: “There are no proposed changes to pensions or terms and conditions, and our proposals will ensure that any reductions in positions will be achieved through vacancy management, in accordance to our mandatory non-termination agreement. We ask the RMT to continue to work with us.
No other strike date has yet been set.
The news came as talks continued between the RMT and Network Rail and 13 rail operating companies in the national rail dispute, ahead of this week’s third 24-hour walkout on Saturday.
Only around 20% of services around Britain are expected to operate, and although many people have followed advice to avoid traveling and working from home during shutdowns this week, rail operators are planning busier trains.
With leisure travel recovering faster than commuting since the pandemic and people potentially more reluctant to abandon weekend plans, rail companies have reiterated calls to only travel if necessary. Most advance tickets can be used on alternative trains until Tuesday, or refunded.
Sources said talks with Network Rail now involve the detail of proposed maintenance reforms, but wider talks have stalled. The RMT said the wider issues cannot be resolved without the government’s green light or involvement, with rail operators now under fixed contract and several under direct state control. Lynch said on Thursday that Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps “must come into the room or step out of the way.”
More than 100 unions around the world represented by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have signed a joint letter to Shapps, urging him to meet with unions – and expressing his shock that rail services would be cut within a year after Britain hosted COP26 and argued for greener transport.
The ITF warned that “the world is watching this dispute unfold”. Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary, said: “Grant Shapps must realize that the UK’s international reputation in industrial relations is under threat. If he doesn’t even want to talk to national unions, what hope does he think his government will have when it comes to engaging international unions as part of the government’s ‘Global Britain’ agenda? »
Other British rail unions are about to join the dispute. Aslef drivers will exit on Croydon Tramlink this Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th June and on Greater Anglia on Saturday 2nd July. The first results of a series of strike ballots by TSSA members on the west coast of Avanti will arrive next week.
BA airport workers at Heathrow have voted to strike while Arriva bus workers are continuing an indefinite strike in Yorkshire and will be voted on elsewhere in the North West.