Latest Rail News

27.10.15

London mayor rejects union offer to meet face-to-face over Night Tube row

London mayor Boris Johnson MP has turned down an offer from the TSSA union chief to meet in person to resolve disputes over the longstanding Night Tube row.

Manuel Cortes wrote to Johnson asking him to meet union representatives face-to-face to get the all-night service back on track after it was pushed back for a second time earlier this month.

Cortes told Johnson that the service “isn’t going to happen” unless talks resume in good faith, adding: “I will make you an offer, a direct offer – I will meet you personally, with our sister unions, to put the Night Tube back on track.

“We want it, Londoners want it, so name the time and name the place, we will meet you face-to-face to make this happen. My phone is on. I look forward to hearing from you.”

But the mayor dismissed the offer as an attempt of “needless headline grabbing”.

His spokesman told the Evening Standard: “The mayor and London Underground (LU) have been clear that the introduction of Night Tube will not be at any cost.

“The unions have failed to put what is a very fair and sensible offer to their members. The mayor has made clear negotiations are a matter for LU management. To do anything else risks undermining the process.

“Given the unions know that, it’s clear to the mayor that they are intent on needless headline grabbing rather than doing what they should be doing, and putting the deal to their members.”

Cortes slashed out at the response, claiming he had written to Johnson in “good faith” because he hoped Johnson could have used his “considerable personal authority” to speed up LU’s management.

“The mayor’s official spokesperson prefers to sling insults our way, but our shoulders are broad. My personal, face-to-face offer to Boris stands. Meet me, and my fellow rail union leaders, face-to-face and let’s get the Night Tube back on track.

“I’m certain Boris has the good manners to respond to my letter in person. But to speed things up my phone remains switched on and I await his call.”

Rumours of a 2016 launch date

Earlier this month, union bosses claimed that the Night Tube service was going to be pushed back to 2016 after talks between them and LU broke down once again.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said that Johnson had rung his officials from Japan, where he was at the time, to instruct them to kick the service into next year.

Responding to the failed talks, LU said the bodies were very close to an agreement – but very late in the day, union leaders demanded that train drivers have a four-day week. It criticised ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite union leaders for jeopardising the start of the service and delaying the implementation of a “fair and sustainable” pay offer.

Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer, said at the time: “Our offer has been reworked considerably from where we were when the trade unions balloted their members for strike action, which is why we now feel we must seek the views of our staff, as the unions haven’t.

“Not only are the unions at risk of depriving millions of customers of their Night Tube service, they are depriving employees of a very fair pay offer and longer term opportunities to improve work-life balance even further.”

(Top image c. c. Tim Ireland/PA Images)

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