Millions of London commuters and tourists have been given a glimmer of hope over the latest batch of tube strikes after Transport for London (TfL) said some trains may run on the London Underground (LU) during the two 24-hour-long walkouts on 25 and 27 August. The network could be able to put on some services because an "optimistic" Aslef, which represents most drives on the LU, has not currently joined the RMT, TSSA and Unite in their protest over pay and work conditions relating the new Night Tube service.
"Staff on the bus network, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, tram, Emirates Air Line and River services will not be on strike," a TfL spokesperson said.
"These services will operate as normal but they will be much busier than usual, especially during peak hours, between Tuesday 25 and Friday 28 August. Roads and National Rail services and terminals will also be much busier. We will run whatever Tube services we can on those four days, based on the staff that sign into their shifts. All customers are advised to allow more time for their journeys."
But an Aslef source told IBTimes UK that some of its members may not cross the planned picket lines next week out of solidarity with their colleagues in the RMT, TSSA and Unite. All of the unions resumed talks with Underground management at mitigation service Acas today. The negotiations have been described as "positive" and "constructive" by both union and LU sources.
Unions to review position
The main areas of dispute are around the proposed Night Tube work rosters and pay. LU have offered Night Tube staff an average 2% salary hike, a £500 ($782) bonus for all Night Tube employees, and an extra £200 per Night Tube shift for drivers while the service is rolled-out. But the unions have rejected the offer and a Unite negotiator has previously told IBTimes UK that he wanted to secure a 2.5% pay rise for all Night Tube staff instead of the proposed averaged 2% hike. Meanwhile, LU have maintained that their offer was "extremely fair".
The main update today is that one of the RMT's main negotiators, Mick Lynch, revealed that the union will "review" its position on the industrial action on 24 August. The RMT assistant general secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We will review our position on Monday afternoon, that's the instruction I've been given – to get the best possible deal, present that to my executive and see if we can review our position on the action."
But Lynch explained that the strike is still on and RMT train operators have been asked not to book on for duty from 21:00BST on 25 August and other RMT workers have been asked to not work from 18:30 on 25 August. The TSSA, which represents workers on the LU, is also expected to review its strike action on 24 August.
"TSSA is committed to continued talks at Acas and is seeking to reach a suitable agreement. However, until such time as a settlement is achieved, further strike action is necessary in accordance with our ballot mandate," the union's latest public statement read.
The Night Tube dispute threatens to undermine the new service's 12 September start date. But LU have maintained that the company is "operationally ready" for the roll-out and is still working towards the launch date. Unite, which represents around 400 workers on the LU and is set to strike alongside the TSSA and RMT next week, had not responded to a request for a new comment at the time of publication.