London Tube strike: Industrial action for Tuesday ON as last-ditch talks fail


ast-ditch talks to avert this week’s Tube strikes broke up after only 20 minutes on Monday as Londoners were told to prepare to work from home if they can.

Direct talks between the RMT union and London Underground negotiators began with union sources suggesting a “political shift” from Mayor Sadiq Khan would be needed to “change the weather”.

Transport for London sources were similarly pessimistic – saying it was difficult to respond to union concerns about pensions when no proposals to change staff benefits had been tabled.

By 4pm on Monday, the Standard was told by union sources that the talks had lasted barely 20 minutes with “no progress” – meaning the strikes were still on. TfL confirmed this remained the case.

Jeremy Selwyn

Earlier on Monday morning, TfL had revealed that Tube ridership had reached 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels last Saturday – and 90 per cent at times. Weekday levels are two-thirds of normal.


It said the two 24-hour strikes – which are due to start at a minute past midnight on Tuesday and Thursday – would damage the city’s economic recovery.

Passengers were urged to work from home – alongside a warning that the capital’s roads will be “congested”.

Tube strike poster warning passengers of four days of disruption

/ Ross Lydall

TfL said “severe disruption” on the Tube was expected on both strike days, with a “high chance” of no Underground services.

However, there was slightly better news for commuters travelling into work on Wednesday and Friday.

Despite early concerns about both mornings being chaotic, TfL said that service frequencies should improve after 9am and advised passengers to delay their journeys – while considering whether they were “essential” and could be made on another day.

The talks on Monday between the RMT and TfL were held away from the conciliation service Acas, where they have twice met over the last fortnight without a breakthrough.

TfL was hopeful of a “positive outcome for London”.

But when the talks quickly failed to achieve a breakthrough, the RMT increased the pressure on Mr Khan to support TfL staff who he had previously described as performing “heroically” through the pandemic by keeping services running.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Sadiq Khan knows that this raid on our members’ pensions and conditions is unfair and would lead to industrial action because he’s said it himself.

“Yet only last week we find out that the mayor has agreed to submit proposals to the Government that will result in attacks on those pensions.

“Which side is the mayor on? For the good of his workers and London’s economic recovery, Sadiq Khan needs to stand firm against the government, stop the pensions raid and end the job massacre.”

Tube Strike: 26th November 2021

John Dunne/Evening Standard

TfL’s advice to Londoners to work from home is thought to be unprecedented, even though a full bus service will operate alongside the mainline railway.

Andy Lord, TfL’s chief operating officer, said: “I would ask anyone who needs to use the Tube on March 1 and 3 to check before they make their journey, consider whether they are able to work from home and use alternative modes of transport where possible.

“It’s highly unlikely there will be an Underground service running during the strike action and services are likely to be affected on the mornings of March 2 and 4 too. I apologise to customers for this and understand they will be frustrated by this strike action, but urge them not to take it out on those who are trying to help.

“We haven’t proposed any changes to pensions or terms and conditions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals we have set out, so this action is completely unnecessary.

“We know our customers deserve better than this, which is why we’re urging the RMT to talk to us so we can find a resolution to this dispute and call off this action, which is threatening London’s recovery from the pandemic.”

The strike follows TfL’s plan to axe 500 to 600 station staff posts and the RMT’s fear that staff pensions will be at risk.

TfL insists no staff member will lose their job and the reduction in posts will be made from not filling existing vacancies and not replacing staff who leave or retire.

But the RMT fears staff who remain will be forced to work more “extreme hours” shifts early in the morning or very late at night and will be more likely to have to work alone.

Last Friday’s £200m Government bailout deal requires TfL to act by June on any measures suggested in an independent report on its pension scheme, which is due to be published by March 31.

The review of the “generous” TfL pension fund – which costs it about £375m a year in contributions – is a requirement of both last Friday’s bailout and the bailout received in June 2021.

TfL is required by the Government to become “financially sustainable” by April 2023 and find an additional £400m of cuts over and above about £500m already in the pipeline.

TfL said on Monday that “the safety of staff and customers will always remain paramount and the changes will protect as many jobs as possible for the people who work for TfL today, allowing more flexibility to adapt to changing customer requirements”.

It said of the pension review, which is being conducted by former TUC chief Sir Brendan Barber: “This is simply a review and there are no plans for change. The review remains ongoing and no recommendations have yet been made.”

Recommended For You