London Underground strike to go ahead after last-ditch talks fail

Strikes by London Underground workers are to go ahead from Friday evening after last-minute talks to resolve a pay dispute failed.

The rolling walkouts will begin on Friday at 6pm when engineering workers at the Ruislip Depot will down tools for 24 hours.

Control room staff will strike on Sunday for 24 hours, and from Monday to Wednesday, nearly 10,000 RMT members will walk out across the Tube network.

There will be little to no service between the evening of Sunday 7 January and the morning of Friday 12 January. It will be the biggest walkout on the Underground this century with up to 16 million journeys having to be cancelled.

While the London Overground, Elizabeth line, DLR, tram, bus and National Rail workers are not joining the walkout, services are expected to be much busier than normal as a result.

An RMT spokesperson said: “TfL [Transport for London] has failed to avert this strike by not offering a deal that was acceptable to our members on London Underground.

“We do not take strike action lightly but we are determined to get a negotiated settlement on pay, travel facilities and a grading structure that means our members will not lose out.”

Separately, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said it was planning to ballot its Underground members over a separate strike. It said that after months of talks it was offered a 5 per cent pay rise and a plan to freeze pay bands and salaries, which it had rejected.

The TSSA is the largest trade union in TfL representing thousands of staff in office, stations, bus operations, London Underground, TfL Rail and the Overground.

How will services be affected?

  • Sunday 7 January: Tube services close earlier than normal. Customers advised to complete Tube journeys by 5.30pm;
  • Monday 8 – Thursday 11 January: Severe disruption, little to no service expected to run;
  • Friday 12 January: Tube services start later than normal, good service expected by midday;
  • No other TfL services on strike but some buses, DLR, London Overground and Elizabeth Line will be busier than usual, and affected by station closures where stations also serve London Underground.
  • One-way or queueing systems may be in place.

Who is striking and when?

Members of the RMT union working in different parts of the Underground system will walk out at various times over the coming week:

  • Engineering train drivers start action on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 January.
  • RMT members in LUL’s network control functions take action on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 January.
  • Signalling and service control staff take action on Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 January.
  • All other RMT members, including engineering, fleet maintenance, station and train operators, will strike on Monday 8 and Wednesday 10 January.

TSSA general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust warned the ballot could result in a “crippling” strike, adding: “Our members on London Underground are deeply unhappy at this sub-standard and simply unrealistic offer.

“If this is to be avoided, London Underground must come back to the table with an offer which takes account of the ongoing cost of living crisis.

“The offer, as it stands, really amounts to a pay cut for our members who do so much to keep London moving every day of the year.

“It fails to address the fact inflation has been sky high in recent times and other components of the proposed deal, relating to salary bands, are unacceptable.”

Previously, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that the Tube’s senior managers and commissioners were “raking it in” while workers were subject to modest pay increases that, after inflation, would amount to a pay cut.

“The refusal of TfL to restore staff travel facilities and create a two-tier workforce is also unacceptable,” he said. “Our members have made it clear that they are prepared to take action and we urge TfL to enter into meaningful conciliatory talks to avert disruption in the capital.”

In a prior statement, Glynn Barton, TfL’s chief operating officer, had said: ”We are disappointed that RMT is planning strike action in response to our offer of a 5 per cent pay increase.

“We have been clear throughout our productive discussions with our trade unions that this offer is the most we can afford while ensuring that we can operate safely, reliably and sustainably.

“We encourage the RMT to engage with us to avoid disruption for Londoners. We would like to advise anyone travelling during the strike days to check before they travel.”