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Night Tube launch pushed back to 2016

The Night Tube service has been pushed back to next year after talks between unions and London Underground (LU) broke down again today (14 October).

Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on LU, said they had made it clear that they wanted to keep talking to develop a solution that delivered the service while protecting and improving the work-life balance of staff.

But he added: “We have put forward a number of proposals to resolve this dispute in a way that is far and benefits both sides. London Underground have rejected them all. Most disappointingly of all, they have decided to blackmail their own employees by refusing to make a pay offer unless staff agree to worsen their working conditions.

“That is not something we are prepared to accept. The management of LU has completely mishandled these negotiations. They have wasted every opportunity for a settlement and seem to have been determined to provoke confrontation rather than resolution.”

But RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash, who had been considerably forthright about the subject in the past, was less so than Brennan today.

He agreed that the “crisis management” of the service could have been avoided if LU hadn’t tried to impose rosters and had stuck to the agreed negotiating framework from the beginning, but said the union is seeking further urgent talks at the most senior level to get the process back on track.

“No-one wins from this situation – neither Londoners or Tube staff. RMT supports the principle of a Night Tube with properly agreed reward and rosters and the union remains available for further constructive talks.

“RMT is frankly astounded that Boris Johnson has rung his officials from Japan and instructed them to kick the Night Tube into next year,” he added.

In a statement sent to RTM, LU said it will now seek views on the pay offer and the Night Tube implementation from staff across the organisation.

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 to staff.

According to LU, all bodies were very close to an agreement – but very late in the day, union leaders demanded that train drivers have a four-day week.

LU claimed it had already promised to look into it on a trial basis at two locations, but said it would be financially reckless to guarantee implementing it in full now without testing it first.

Steve Griffiths, its chief operating officer, said: “We’ve made significant progress over the last few months. Our offer has been reworked considerable 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.”

The organisation added that the mayor had also repeatedly made it clear that introducing the all-night service would not be “at any cost” to London’s fare.

The longstanding Night Tube dispute dates back to March, when union bosses first challenged LU’s pay offer to introduce the all-night service from September.

Although it was originally set to start on 12 September, union strike ballots and failed talks kept casting doubts on the service’s viability until LU finally confirmed its delay in late August.

(Top image c. Tim Ireland/PA Images)


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