The much awaited Night Tube service may "wither on the vine" and never be launched after the latest setback in negotiations, a union source told IBTimes UK. The warning came after drivers' union Acas rejected London Underground's (LU) latest pay and work conditions offer.
Finn Brennan, an Aslef organiser, told the union's Underground members: "Having listened to the views of members' right across the combine, your representatives, and the negotiating team, were unanimous in opposing this offer.
The deal would see Night Tube workers given:
- Year 1 - averaged 2% salary rise;
- Year 2 - either Retail Price Index (RPI)-linked hikes or a 1% salary rise (whichever is higher);
- Year 3 - either RPI-linked hikes or a 1% salary rise (whichever is higher); and
- Year 4 - RPI inflation-linked pay hike plus 0.25%.
A one-off £500 ($749) bonus for all staff on the new service was still in play, but the fresh offer saw bosses withdraw a £200 bonus per Night Tube shift for drivers.
"I have reported on this to Aslef's Executive Committee who have today formally rejected the offer. It is now up to management to start to seriously engage to resolve this dispute. Our members have been extremely patient; you should have received a pay rise last April.
London Underground have refused to give it to you unless you agree to change your working conditions so they can run an all-night service at weekends. Quite rightly, your negotiating team and your reps have been determined not to accept an offer that does not give us the guarantees we need," said Brennan.
'Wither on the vine'
A union source close to the negotiations told IBTimes UK that the parties are expected to restart talks in January 2016 and a new launch date of March is being predicted. But the insider also warned that the exit of Boris Johnson from City Hall and the election of a new Mayor of London in May could see the Night Tube plan "wither on the vine" because of an alleged lack of appetite for the service.
The comments come after the launch of the new service was pushed back from September and the latest roll-out date of autumn 2015 was missed because of the ongoing dispute with Aslef, RMT, the TSSA and Unite.
Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer of London Underground, has maintained that the new service would boost jobs and "radically cut" journey times. "We have listened to union feedback and have made absolute guarantees that no existing driver will have to work the Night Tube. Instead we are recruiting part-time train drivers specifically to run this service," Griffiths said.
"It's disappointing to hear that Aslef's executive has rejected our updated pay offer, once again without consulting members and on the basis of wanting more money and more time off. No employer could meet those demands on top of the fair and affordable deal already offered."
The RMT, which represents workers and drivers on the Underground, has also poured cold water on the new offer. Mick Cash, the union's general secretary, said on 1 December that the organisation's representatives were unimpressed by the proposed deal.
"The feedback from the meeting is that the offer has not matched up to the expectations of our members across the combine and falls short in a number of key areas," Cash said. "That feedback will now be considered by the union's executive committee who will make decisions on the next steps that RMT will follow over the Night Tube and pay and conditions issues. External attempts to apply pressure on RMT's internal democracy and processes will have no impact on our procedures whatsoever."