Crunch talks to avert two major industrial disputes will both be held at mitigation service Acas on 15 January. London Underground (LU) workers and drivers will get around the table with Transport for London (TfL) in a bid to stop their planned strike action, while the British Medical Association will hold its own negotiations with NHS England and the Department of Health to prevent another walkout from junior doctors.
The LU unions – Aslef, RMT and Unite – are planning to stage strikes across January and February over planned pay and work conditions with the Night Tube. The service was originally set to launch in September 2015 but the dispute has delayed its roll-out.
Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer of the LU, told IBTimesUK there was no new launch date for the service. However, the Tube boss said commuters should see the service in action sometime in 2016. "The truth of this matter is that this [dispute] is not about Night Tube – it's about the unions wanting more money, working fewer hours and a four-day week," Griffiths argued.
But Finn Brennan, an organiser for Tube drivers' union Aslef, said his members were more concerned about work conditions than pay. "This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We genuinely regret the inconvenience that will be caused but the behaviour of London Underground's senior management team has left us with no other choice," he added.
"When an employer is simply not prepared to talk, then our only option is to take industrial action. We want to see an all-night service introduced, and we are not opposed to the recruitment of part-time staff. But we will not accept a zero-hour culture being introduced and working conditions undermined."
Elsewhere, the BMA has agreed to meet with NHS England and government officials after thousands of junior doctors walked out from everything but emergency care on 12 January. The row is over proposed new contracts for junior doctors. The medics have argued the proposed work agreements are dangerous and will leave them worse off.
The Department of Health, however, said the contracts will help NHS England become a seven-day-a-week service, while stressing it has offered the junior doctors an 11% pay rise.