London Underground (LU) drivers are being balloted on strike action over pay and staffing plans for the night Tube service.
Train drivers’ union ASLEF accused London Underground of trying to force through new employee rosters requiring employees to work an ‘unlimited number of weekend and night shifts for no extra pay’.
While talks over pay and staffing between London Underground and trade unions have been ongoing since February, ASLEF has claimed negotiations surrounding late night services on Friday and Saturdays had now been ‘closed down’ by the Transport for London (TfL) subsidiary.
Any strike action by ASLEF could cause substantial disruption on the network as around 80% of London Underground driver are union members.
The next meeting between trade unions and the London Underground has been set for 3 June, where discussions will continue over a revised pay offer tabled on 9 April.
The current offer would provide a 0.75% pay rise – up from the former 0.5% hike offered –for employees next year and an increase in line with RPI for the following 12 months.
Covering the night Tube arrangements, the deal also includes a £500 non-consolidated payment to all chief operating officer staff plus cash and a further £250 for groups that will experience more impact at implementation.
Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s district organiser, said: ‘We aren’t opposed to all night services but we want them introduced in a fair and sensible way which rewards staff for their hard work and the contribution they make to the success of the London Underground.
‘Sadly, because the company refuses to negotiate seriously, we are left with no other choice than to ballot our members on industrial action.’
Chief operating officer for London Underground, Nick Brown, said: ‘We have been in discussions with our trade unions since February and we have recently invited them for further talks facilitated by ACAS. To suggest that we’ve closed down negotiations is completely untrue and it is extremely disappointing the co-ordinated response by the unions has been to announce their intention to ballot members.
‘Talks have not broken down and we are committed to reaching an agreement that rewards our hardworking staff that is affordable, sustainable and fair.
‘We know our employees want to play their part in delivering a world class and modern Tube service for Londoners, and reaching an agreement on this will allow us to work together to deliver a night Tube service that works for the benefit of the people of London and the economy.’
Responding to the announcement, Labour’s London Assembly transport spokesperson, Val Shawcross said the mayor, TfL and unions needed to ‘get around the negotiating table and do everything they can to find agreement and avoid disruptive strikes’.
‘The night Tube will be a great thing for London but it’s important it’s done properly. That means recognising the impact it will have on staff who will make the night Tube possible and listening to their concerns,’ she added.