RMT suspended the second set of strikes in the Night Tube driver consolidation dispute. As Tubeworker reported earlier in August we believed the suspension was a misstep. There is little reason to believe that this further suspension will not weaken the dispute further.
The reasons to suspend are not well supported by the supposed “breakthrough” in talks. This amounts to further commitment for more talks and no firm guarantees. The company has rejected two proposals made for a distinct night tube roster and a voluntary agreement. What has actually been gained is the company imposing its rosters and a commitment to restart talks on the principle of creating more part time driver jobs.
Tubeworker does recognise that support for the dispute was uneven across the combine. Some lines without Night Tube needed extra work to convince drivers to come out for the proposed four days of action. There is still a belief in some areas that strikes now when passenger numbers are lower will not have the impact needed. A big campaign on the issue from the moment the plans were tabled would have built effective action. RMT drivers voted yes for action, we should respect that mandate!
RMT remains in dispute and should not squander the chance to name more action when the impact of these rosters on fatigue, and weekend working is felt. There are now eight weeks before further negotiations at ACAS. Now is not the time to just sit and wait it out. Activists should be on the front foot in preparing for this dispute to get bigger. It must not be forgotten that as well as the potential for 11 full time equivalent jobs to be lost, there is also a lost promotion avenue for Night Tube station staff if this is allowed to go through. Once again Aslef have played a grubby role, spreading rumours about the potential weakness of any strike action that did go ahead and suggesting that their members may not respect picket lines. When these rosters are imposed Aslef and RMT members should stand together and push back against these changes.