A tube driver strike has been announced for Wednesday 15 March.
Drivers’ union Aslef confirmed that its members will stage a 24-hour walk-out which, if it goes ahead, is likely to shut down most of the London Underground network.
The stoppage coincides with the Budget – the first since October 2021. It is also timed for the day before the next national strike by rail workers begins.
Commuters to London who rely on both national rail and the Underground – for example arriving at a London terminus and continuing by Tube – will be particularly hard hit, facing strikes on successive days.
Tea RMT union has called its next national walk-out on Thursday 16 March, involving members working for Network Rail and train operators. Figures just issued show that London commuter train operators can run only about one in five services during such disruption.
The London underground industrial action is part of a dispute over “management’s failure to accept that changes to our working arrangements and pensions should only happen by agreement,” according to Aslef.
Drivers voted 99 per cent in favor of strike action on a turnout out of 77 per cent of members. Only 16 drivers voted against a strike, with 1,577 in favor.
Aslef members in other roles on the London Underground, including test train and Engineering train drivers and those in management grades, will strike on the same day.
Finn Brennan, Aslef’s full-time organizer on the Underground, said: “The size of these ‘Yes’ votes, and the large turnouts, show that our members are not prepared to put up any longer with the threats to their working conditions and pensions .
“We understand that TfL [Transport for London] faces financial challenges, post-pandemic, but our members are simply not prepared to pay the price for the government’s failure to properly fund London’s public transport system.
“Cuts to safety training have already been forced through and management is open that they plan to remove all current working agreements under the guise of ‘modernisation’ and ‘flexibility’ and to replace the agreed attendance and discipline policies.
“Proposals to slash pension benefits are due to be announced in the next week.
“We are always prepared to discuss and negotiate on changes, but our members want an unequivocal commitment from TfL that management will not continue to force through detrimental changes without agreement.
“Unless they are prepared to work with us, and accept that changes have to come by agreement, and bring real benefits to staff, rather than just cuts and cost savings, this will be only the first day of action in a protracted dispute.”
Nick Dent, director of customer operations at TfL, said: “We have not proposed changes to anyone’s pensions, and instead have been working with our trade unions to see how we can make London Underground a fairer and more sustainable place.
“We want to make London Underground a better place to work so we urge Aslef to call off this damaging strike and continue working with us.”
TfL has not yet estimated what the effect will be. However, as all Tube trains are driver-only operated, a strike by members of Aslef has the potential to shut down the whole system.