The London Underground faces a complete close down this bank holiday weekend, as the workers, who control the power to run the trains, prepare to strike in a dispute over pay differentials.
The 40 technicians, mostly members of Unite, the country’s largest union, are based at the power control room in Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NJ where they provide the power for the 270 station underground network.
Talks were being held (Monday 19 May) between the unions and the management of the London Underground, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, to resolve the dispute before the strike is due to start at 00.01 on Saturday (24 May) and ending at 08.00 on Tuesday (27 May).
Because of health and safety concerns, so that passengers are not stranded on tubes without power, the underground will begin to close down on Friday evening (23 May).
The dispute is complex and involves the workforce being tupe’d – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 – to other organisations some years ago, and then coming back under London Underground management, but with different conditions.
This means that some workers started their length of service from day one when they returned to London Underground, while others brought back their full number of previous years’ service. This would have a differential impact on the level of pensions and other entitlements for some staff.
Unite is also asking for more money for its members to do the training of new recruits, but the management wants the staff to take on this additional responsibility for no extra cash.
Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “There is a real possibility that the underground could close down over the bank holiday weekend. Unite is working very hard to achieve a fair settlement for our members – and to avoid the industrial action. The ball is very much in the management’s court.
“The issue here is broken promises, unfair treatment over differentials and worsening conditions. London Underground management’s penny pinching attitude is not being driven by common sense, but by the background agenda of budget cuts in the Treasury’s funding.
“The management has had a long-time to resolve this dispute and we urge them to do so very quickly, so Londoners and domestic and foreign visitors can enjoy the many delights of the capital over the late spring bank holiday.”