London Underground (LU) has been quick to stress that it is merely "listening" to its workers as the company canvasses them over the Night Tube. Management have made the move after IBTimes UK exclusively revealed the unions, including Aslef, the RMT, the TSSA and Unite, were set to walk out of negotiations over the new service.
With the talks at mitigation service Acas shelved since 14 October, LU is canvassing staff about the Night Tube and the company's "extremely fair" pay deal, which includes an average 2% salary increase for 2015 and drivers being offered an extra £200 ($307) per Night Tube shift.
"We are simply letting our staff know about the extremely fair deal on offer and listening to their views," a spokeswoman for LU told IBTimes UK. "Our offer has been reworked considerably from when the trade unions balloted their members for strike action in June, which is why we now feel we must seek the views of our staff."
The comments come after The Evening Standard claimed staff were being "taken to one side" and "instructed to send their decision [on the pay deal] on-line to maintain confidentiality". But the RMT, which represents workers and drivers on the network, played down the report. "The unions are getting on with resolving the outstanding issues through the machinery," an RMT spokesman told IBTimes UK.
Delays on the Tube
The Night Tube, which will run on major lines and is expected to support 2,000 permanent jobs, has been hit with delays and the ongoing dispute surrounding the service means it is not likely to launch until 2016. The TSSA, which represents workers on the network, wants to meet with Boris Johnson to talk through the issue. But the Mayor of London has so far stayed out of the negotiation process, leaving LU chief operating officer Steve Griffiths in charge.
Elsewhere, the union accused management of living in "cloud cuckoo land" over the company's listening exercise. "LU reveal that they are now trying to sneak behind the backs of the rail unions seeking private meetings with or, on-line feedback from our members," said Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the TSSA.
"But LU already know what our members think because we've told them so this sneak's strategy they're now embarking on is not just an act of bad faith, it's inflammatory. Everyone can now see that what we are up against on our side and that it's LU keeping the brakes on the Night Tube negotiations. So it really is time for Boris to pull his finger out on this one and wag it in the direction of LU management who are just blocking the inevitable – Night Tubes are going to happen."