The London Underground could be see further disruption to service as hundreds of Tube workers announced they are to join the upcoming strike. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said 500 track patrol staff will walk out for 24 hours from 6.30am on Friday (12 February) over a dispute about private contractors, which they argue will "casualise and undermine" their jobs.
The patrol staff will join more than 1,500 maintenance workers who are planning to strike on the same day in a separate dispute over safety conditions. The latest batch of striking workers will mean if there is a network problem on the day, such as a signalling failure or an issue with the track, it may not be resolved until after the walk-out, potentially causing travel chaos for millions of commuters.
The strike is one of several planned by union workers on the London Underground workers scheduled between now and June.
The RMT union accused London Underground (LU) of trying to "bulldoze through" the training of contract staff in an "attack" on their contracted workers.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: "This dispute is over an outrageous attempt to casualise and undermine the jobs of our London Underground track patrol members through an extension of the use of private contractors. The plan must be halted.
"RMT will continue to fight all attempts to undermine and casualise jobs across London Underground as the company looks to cut corners to meet Government austerity targets. This union will not accept the undermining of jobs, conditions and safety or the creeping privatisation of functions."
Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer at London Underground, said: "When we introduce the night Tube, we will need some track patrol staff working on Sunday nights rather than Fridays. We've given our existing staff the choice whether or not to cover these shifts, which protects their work/life balance. No jobs are at risk and contract staff will only be used temporarily, to cover shifts that our employees choose not to work.
"This freedom to choose for our staff is part of our pay and night Tube offer, which the RMT has recommended its members accept. We'll be doing everything we can to ensure this doesn't impact services for customers."