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London Rail Disruptions Continue Thirteen Months After the First Strike Took Place

London tube disruptions are set to continue into the next few weeks, with more rail and underground worker strikes taking place. 

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced that underground workers will be striking between Sunday the 23rd of July and Friday the 28th. There will be no strike action taking place on Monday the 24th of July. 

The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen’s (ASLEF) train drivers will strike on Wednesday the 26th of July and Friday the 28th. Engineering, maintenance, and management departments will also have walk outs on these dates. 

The National Rail will see strikes on Thursday the 20th of July, Saturday the 22nd, and Saturday the 29th.  

According to Transport for London (TfL), this means commuters across London will have their journeys impacted in the following manner

- Sunday 23 July: Early Tube service closures. Journeys must be completed by 19:00.

- Monday 24 July: Good service should be occurring by mid-morning. 

- Tuesday 25 and Thursday 27 July: Little to no service on the London underground.

- Wednesday 26 and Friday 28 July: Tube service suspended, including Night Trains. 

- Saturday 29 July: Good service should be occurring by mid-morning. 

- London Overground, DLR, Night Overground, Tram, Elizabeth line, and IFS Cloud Cable Car services should run as scheduled. 

- Some services (such as the Elizabeth line) that serve underground stations as well may be impacted. 

These strikes are a continuation of a long existing dispute between the rail unions and the TfL and English government.
The RMT is disputing the TfL’s plans to touch worker’s pensions. As a result of the pandemic’s impact on fare income, the English government bailed out the TfL. Part of this deal included the TfL promising to make 500 million in savings. Much of the Tory government believed that the TfL’s budget was too high, and the Mayor of London cut it. What this has translated into, is the TfL, looking at cutting 600 jobs across England and changing pensions. Unions believe that pensions are a red line; they are part of the signed agreement that workers have with employers, and thus the changing of pensions is unlawful

Separately, the ASLEF is pushing against TfL’s overtime demands and unfair pay. The union claims that many rail companies rely on train drivers working overtime to run full schedules. This is due to companies not employing enough drivers. 

So far there has been no movement on either side of the debate. Both RMT and ASLEF are standing their ground. General Secretary of RMT Mike Lynch has said that he hopes this new wave of strikes will show “just how important railway staff are to the running of the rail industry”. ASLEF’s General Secretary expressed remorse, claiming that “Train drivers don’t want to be inconveniencing the public,” and, “We want to resolve this dispute.” 

TfL maintains that they have been trying to reach an understanding with the rail unions. The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Glynn Barton, said, “We are disappointed that the RMT has announced strike action on this range of issues that we have been attempting to discuss with them openly.”

Public opinion of the strikes is generally quite negative. A poll conducted by the Telegraph showed only 18% of 10,135 people supporting the ASLEF drivers strike. Approval of the strikes is sure to decrease in the upcoming weeks, with the walkouts coinciding with the final Ashes tests, and The Open Championship golf tournament. 

It is unclear when this issue will be resolved. The TfL regularly posts updates on service disruptions here

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