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‘Crippling’ London Tube strikes called off at last minute after ‘positive’ TfL and RMT talks

The city was expected to lose £100 million a day according to some experts

Maira Butt
Monday 08 January 2024 07:26 GMT
Strikes by London Underground workers suspended

Tube strikes that would have crippled London transport services all week have been cancelled at the eleventh hour.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) were due to walk out from Monday until the end of the week in protest at a 5 per cent pay offer.

But on Sunday evening, the RMT announced it was suspending the planned strikes after progress in talks with Transport for London (TfL).

Strikes had been expected to bring London to a standstill

The action was expected to bring London to a standstill with all underground lines affected and bus routes facing a surge in extra passengers after talks had failed to progress on Friday.

Leading business groups had told The Independent that the city could have expected to lose as much as £100m a day while London mayor Sadiq Khan said it would have cost the hospitality industry £50m.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said on Sunday: “Following further positive discussions today, the negotiations on a pay deal for our London Underground members can now take place on an improved basis and mandate with significant further funding for a settlement being made available.

“This significantly improved funding position means the scheduled strike action will be suspended with immediate effect and we look forward to getting into urgent negotiations with TfL in order to develop a suitable agreement and resolution to the dispute.”

Mr Khan reacted to the news on X, formerly known as Twitter, to say he believed the suspension showed what happened by “engaging with trade unions and transport staff rather than working against them”.

“I’m delighted that this week’s Tube strikes have now been suspended,” he said. “They would have caused huge disruption for Londoners and would have been a major blow to the capital’s businesses at the worst possible time.”

The planned industrial action had been called due to an ongoing dispute over pay. In December last year, the RMT rejected a pay offer of 5 per cent. The union described that as “unacceptable when TfL has created a bonus pot of £13m for senior managers and the commissioner took an 11 per cent pay rise in 2023 taking his salary up to £395,000.”

The RMT said it wanted to see full-staff travel facilities for all Tube workers restored and criticised bosses for freezing pay bands, warning that it would create a two-tier workforce.

TfL said talks between it and RMT were ongoing as both sides seek to find a way through the dispute and end the strike actions.

In November, TfL made what it described as a full and final offer to increase the base pay for all London Underground workers by 5 per cent.

This was accepted by members of the Aslef union but not the RMT.

RMT union leader Mick Lynch welcomed ‘positive discussions’

A source close to the talks said that TfL had offered up to £30m extra to help resolve the pay dispute.

A Transport for London spokesperson said: “Last week, we discussed our pay offer extensively with the three trade unions that had rejected it, making clear that TfL cannot afford any more. This remains the case.

“Today, we were made aware that the mayor was able to provide additional funds to enable discussions with the unions to continue. We have all consistently made clear that strike action is bad for everyone and would have a negative impact on the city as it recovers from the pandemic.

“This intervention from the mayor has been discussed with the unions, and the RMT union has now suspended the planned strike action.”

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