This week’s 24 hour walk out by tube train drivers has been suspended after talks between union Aslef and London Underground. The strike would have caused disruption to the capital, especially with the England v Slovenia World Cup qualifier football match at Wembley on Thursday evening.
The dispute centres on broken agreements underground staff say they had with tube bosses over the shifts they work since the Night Tube made sections of the London underground run 24 hours. London Underground deny Aslef’s claims that they have missed all deadlines to carry out the agreement to reduce weekend shifts for drivers.
But this evening, talks at arbitration body Acas seem to have progressed enough for the strike to be called off before the strike was due to commence at a minute past midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
Finn Brennan, Aslef’s organiser on London Underground, said: “I am pleased to say that the our negotiating team believes they we have made sufficient progress in talks at Acas to recommend to the Aslef executive committee that the strike called for Thursday be suspended.
“We have always been prepared to keep talking to resolve this dispute but Aslef always has, and always will, insist that management stick to agreements they make with us.
“Our ballot remains live and we will not hesitate to call action in the future if needed to ensure all the commitments made are fully delivered.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m pleased that this strike action has been suspended and that discussions can continue without disruption.
“By talking constructively to TfL staff and acting on their concerns we’ve managed to improve the atrocious industrial relations legacy left by the previous mayor.
“This has led to a nearly 60 per cent reduction in the number of days lost to strikes on the underground since I became mayor – which means less disruption and frustration for commuters in London.”
Nigel Holness, director of network operations for London Underground, insisted: “I am pleased that customers will not have their journeys disrupted. Since we agreed the pay deal last year we’ve delivered on all our commitments to provide the best possible work-life balance for our staff.
“We have completed a trial of a compressed four-day working week on the Jubilee line and drivers are working fewer weekend shifts.”
Meanwhile the row over the future of guards on overground trains has escalated, with RMT Union conductors voting to strike after their future was still in doubt on First MTR’s South Western’s franchise.
South Western Railway took over from South West Trains in August, running services to and from London Waterloo and the dispute over guaranteeing guards on other lines has now reached a head on five train operators.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: “Guards on South Western have been hailed as ‘legends’ in company publicity material. It is time for First MTR to stand by those legends and to withdraw the threat to throw them off the trains.“
Talks to avert a strike are due to be held on Thursday 5 October.