Tube unions and London Underground (LU) management are set to restart talks today (17 August) in a bid to avert two 24-hour-long strikes planned for the end of the month in a dispute over the new Night Tube service. But Aslef, the tube drivers' union which has so far not joined the industrial action, is not expecting to make any imminent "dramatic announcements", a source told IBTimes UK.
The union remains "optimistic" that it can make a deal with LU over the work rosters for Night Tube drivers and will meet with management on 19 August after talks between the parties adjourned on 14 August. Aslef's main concern is around work/life balance and the union source said "we are very slowly getting to where we would like to be". But Aslef could still join the RMT, TSSA and Unite on the picket lines on 25 August and 27 August if the negotiations with LU break down.
The other tube unions are back around the table with underground bosses at mitigation service Acas today. Talks turned "constructive" last week after the RMT, TSSA and Unite announced their joint strike action. The TSSA, which mainly represents ticket office staff and workers on the LU, claimed common sense had "broke out" between the parties.
Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the TSSA, said: "We are hopeful in this new climate that it should be possible to reach a comprehensive and fair agreement. This will allow for the implementation of a safe and secure Night Tube, which will benefit all Londoners."
The three tube unions, apart from calling for a deal around work/life balance, are also protesting against job cuts and Unite have called for a 2.5% pay rise for all LU staff as part of the Night Tube dispute. LU, which offered an average salary hike of 2% this year and a 1% or Retail Price Index (RPI)-linked salary rise in 2016 and 2017, has argued that its pay and conditions package is "extremely fair".
The planned industrial action, which would see LU workers and some tube drivers walkout, threatens the 12 September start date for the new Night Tube service. But Transport for London (TfL) have said they are still "working towards" the delivery target. A TfL spokesperson said: "We are working towards 12 September for the delivery of Night Tube and are operationally ready, but, as we have always said, this cannot be at any cost."