Tube strike on first day of Jubilee bank holiday weekend is SUSPENDED

Tube strike at Euston and Green Park stations on the first day of Jubilee bank holiday weekend is SUSPENDED after ‘significant progress’ is made in talks between union bosses and TfL

  • Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had voted to strike 
  • It came after complaints about bullying at Euston and Green Park tube stations
  • Strike would have caused chaos on the first day of Jubilee bank holiday weekend
  • The RMT suspended the strike, saying it had made ‘significant progress’ in talks 

A planned tube strike that would have caused chaos on first day of the Jubilee bank holiday weekend has been suspended.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had been due to walk out at Euston and Green Park tube stations in London on Friday, June 3.

Workers at the stations had claimed they faced bullying and intimidation from a single manager for years, leading to a breakdown of industrial relations, the union says. 

However, the RMT has no said that strike will no longer take place on that date, after ‘significant’ progress with London Underground (LUL). 

It said that an agreement has been reached with tube bosses to have a review into the bullying issue that would involve the union.

Plans for strikes at Euston (pictured) and Green Park tube stations have beeen suspended by the RMT union

News there could be strikes on the first day of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend prompted fury

As a result it has suspended the strike, but the RMT says if there are no immediate improvements and a ‘just settlement’ is not reached it will call for action on a different day. 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘London Underground (LUL) has finally seen sense to take the union’s arguments seriously regarding workplace bullying and we will now suspend to the strike on June 3 to hopefully reach a resolution quickly.’

News that workers were planning on striking on the first day of the Jubilee bank holiday weekend was met with fury earlier this month. 

Downing Street slammed the strikes, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman telling reporters: ‘I don’t think we want to see any disruption to London’s transport system at such a moment when people are trying to come together to honour this Jubilee year.’  

A spokesman for Labour leader Keir Starmer said: ‘We never want to see industrial action that’s going to disrupt the public, particularly on an occasion like the Platinum Jubilee weekend where obviously we want the focus to be on celebrating the great service of Her Majesty to this country.’

Sir Keir said he hopes the issues can be resolved, adding: ‘We want to make sure that there isn’t disruption for the public.

‘It’s for the parties themselves to get together and discuss the issues but we would hope that they could resolve the issues before the Jubilee weekend.’

People wait to get on buses at Liverpool Street station in central London during a previous RMT strike on the Tube on March 1

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union protest outside Tottenham Court Road station in London on Tuesday, May 24

RMT boss Mike Lynch has not ruled out four consecutive days of strikes in the summer when thousands of members take industrial action

Transport for London (TfL) insisted there would be no disruption and that despite the strike it would keep the two stations open due to their strategic importance for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

However, despite news the strike next Friday has been called off, a much larger day of action called by the RMT is still set to go ahead less than a week later. 

Around 4,000 tube staff are set to walk out on Monday, June 6, in a dispute over job losses. 

The RMT has accused TfL of trying to ‘bulldoze through 600 job losses’, with Mr Lynch saying its members are ‘not prepared to accept that’. 

‘Station staff play a crucial role in serving the travelling public and were heroes during the 7/7 terrorist attacks,’ he said.

‘Instead of seeking to cut jobs, TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan need to put further pressure on the government to secure increased funding for the network so we can have a properly staffed modern 21st century tube.’ 

Mr Lynch also refused to rule out walk outs lasting four days a time when RMT members working for Network Rail and 15 train operators go on strike this summer.

He said strikes will not be ‘excessive’ to start with as industrial action takes place during a dispute over pay and jobs.

The union legally has to give two weeks’ notice for industrial action, meaning walkouts could begin from mid-June.

The dispute is over pay and claims that Network Rail, which is in charge of infrastructure, plans to cut up to 2,500 jobs.

There are concerns there could be blackouts due to the impact on freight services by these strikes.

Industry insiders point to Drax power station in North Yorkshire, which can only stockpile supplies sufficient for two or three days and services millions of homes. Tesco and Puma Energy, which supplies garage forecourts, have also raised concerns about supply lines. 

Q&A: What is causing the row and how likely are rail strikes this summer? 

What’s causing the problem?

Three rail unions – the RMT, TSSA and ASLEF – want pay increases for their workers and for up to 2,500 job cuts proposed by Network Rail to be reversed. But the Government, which would have to fund the demands, wants the industry to make savings of around £2billion as passenger numbers stabilise at around three-quarters of pre-Covid levels. As part of this, the vast majority of ticket offices across the country could shut, inflaming tensions.

Do the unions’ demands stack up?

Not according to official figures. Over the last decade, the median earnings for train drivers have increased 39 per cent, far above the national average of 23 per cent, or 15 per cent for nurses. Train drivers on average earn £59,000, compared with £31,000 for nurses and £41,000 for police officers. Rail workers can also retire at 62, earlier than civil servants, nurses and teachers.

The schemes are generous, including automatic lump sums worth tens of thousands and annual pensions of around £40,000 for drivers. Official figures also show just 12 per cent of fares are now bought in ticket offices, compared with a third a decade ago, as more travellers switch to digital ticketing. Safety data also shows trains without a guard are no more dangerous than those with one, but the RMT has fiercely resisted driver-only trains.

How likely is a nationwide rail strike?

The RMT union said that of more than 40,000 members balloted, 89 per cent voted in favour of strikes. The turnout was 71 per cent. It has been balloting members since last month. This move could spur on TSSA and ASLEF members to do the same, potentially creating simultaneous walkouts. By law, at least half of members at each operator must vote in the ballot and at least 40 per cent must say yes for strikes to be legal.

Why can’t agency or back-up staff fill the void?

The main problem will be a lack of signallers, who are highly-trained and need geographical knowledge of the area they cover. It means they are effectively irreplaceable at short-notice if they choose to strike. Back-up signallers for Network Rail, who are also managers, are capable of running a maximum of around 20 per cent of services. But they could also strike.

How serious could the disruption be?

Very. It could prevent hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers going on domestic breaks and reaching airports for foreign trips. But rail chiefs are most worried about freight trains. A drastic hit to these would mean supplies, such as wood pellets to Drax Power Station for burning, could become short and the lights could go out in some areas. The power station, which powers millions of homes, normally receives about 17 deliveries of wood pellets a day. Supermarket chains and petrol suppliers are also concerned about the potential impact.

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