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TSSA becomes third union to join Night Tube strike threat

Another rail union has announced that it will take part in the three-day strike action against London Underground (LU) management if today’s conciliatory talks on the Night Tube dispute are not successful.

The TSSA union will be the third union joining the industrial action, joining RMT and Aslef from the evenings of January 26 and February 15 and 17.

Just yesterday, Unite pulled out of the three planned days of fresh strike action in an attempt to allow for further constructive talks at Acas this week.

The other three unions remain intent on striking against the all-night Tube service in response to LU’s four-year pay offer, which they deem is not up to members’ expectations.

Talks have, however, restarted between management and union leaders, with more discussions scheduled for this morning and a programme of more meetings pencilled for the rest of the week.

Today, TSSA’s general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said the organisation remains concerned that LU management are trying to “tie the pay deal, that even they concede is 12 months overdue, to the removal of industry regulated safety standards” – which ensure Tube staff are safety-trained and “protected from extreme fatigue by continuous heavy shift loads”.

“Mayor Boris Johnson must be held responsible for pushing us to strike action,” he added. “‘I have personally invited him, on numerous occasions, to meet with me and other rail union leaders face to face to move these negotiations on. He has never once had the courtesy to reply.

“If management efforts to change shift rosters go ahead, more Tube workers will be forced to work more and more back-to-back shifts – up to 18 hours at a time, without a minimum days-off requirement to recover from the fatigue. ‘Fatigued workers are as dangerous in a Tube station as fatigued doctors in a hospital: they will make mistakes that cost lives.”

Johnson, who had remained relatively quiet during the dispute, attacked the unions last week after Aslef union leaders balloted members on whether to press ahead with the three 24-hour walkouts.

In a strong-worded statement, the mayor said the threats were “unbelievable” given that unions were offered “excellent terms and conditions”.

“They turned those down without ever properly consulting their membership. They claimed – falsely – that the Night Tube would badly affect the ‘work-life balance’ of staff,” he said.

“They held a series of strikes in pursuit of outrageous demands. They used the opportunity of the talks over the Night Tube to try to impose a new four-day week, which would have been completely unaffordable for TfL and for London's farepayers.

“When the new part-time work-force is ready, they will deliver the service. London will get the 24-hour night service it needs, with or without the help of Aslef.”

Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer and main spokesperson for the Night Tube negotiations, reiterated that they have held numerous meetings with unions since October 2014 and promised to “continue to work with them to reach a realistic and sustainable resolution”.

He added: “Our four-year pay offer is extremely fair and we have gone the extra mile to fully protect work-life balance, including hiring 700 new staff for the Night Tube.

“This means that we are delivering the total protection of our staff that the unions have asked for.”

(Top image c. Dominic Lipinski, PA Images)


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