By Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter
West End chiefs are calling for workers to call off Tube strikes amid fears it would cause further damage to businesses struggling in the pandemic.
Transport union the RMT is planning six months of walk-outs on the Victoria and Central lines over new rosters for Night Tube staff. They claim it would damage their work-life balance.
The strike action could affect services running from 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays from this weekend until June 19.
The chief executive of New West End Company, which represents traders in Oxford Street and Regent Street, has pleaded for the RMT to scrap the strikes, the Evening Standard reports.
Jace Tyrrell said: “Following another challenging festive period, hospitality and leisure businesses we hope that the start of 2022 will bring optimism and footfall, however the new year joy has been depleted by the threat of even more disruptions caused by the planned Night Tube strikes.
“The proposed six month strike action threatens the West End’s night-time economy at a critical point when many businesses will be looking to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“We strongly encourage RMT to call off these strikes in order to give viable hospitality businesses in the capital the best possible chance of survival.”
Tube drivers who are members of the RMT plan to refuse to clock in from 8.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights until 8am the next morning.
TFL reintroduced the Night Tube on the Central and Victoria lines in late November and has pledged to keep them running in the evenings although they could be disrupted.
TfL has axed 200 part-time Night Tube drivers’ jobs and wants drivers who work day shifts to do up to four night shifts a year.
It says the night shifts can be swapped among staff and no further jobs will be cut.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “As the new year gets under way our battle for workplace justice for Tube staff steps up a gear with a new phase of action running from tomorrow through to the summer.
“If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.
“It’s the failure ofLondon Underground and Sadiq Khan to address the grievances at the heart of the dispute that leaves us no option but to confirm the programme of action goes ahead as planned. .
“RMT has repeatedly put forward cost neutral proposals that would repair the damage unleashed by deleting 200 driver posts and which would dig LU out of this mess.
“They have ignored us and that approach will have severe consequences for Londoners through to the summer.
“We remain available for further talks.”
TfL wants the union to meet for talks to try and avoid the strikes and resolve the issue.
Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground, said: “We’re disappointed that, once again, the RMT is continuing to push for strike action that is likely to cause further unnecessary disruption.
“We’re calling on the RMT to join us for talks so we can work together to resolve this dispute around roster changes, which mean no job losses and greater flexibility for drivers.
“If these six months of action do go ahead, we will continue to operate as regular a service as possible.
“However, customers are advised to check before they travel and use buses to complete their journeys where required.
“I apologise to them for the impact this unnecessary action will have on their journeys.”
In a statement released today, TfL said: “Both the Victoria and Central lines could be severely disrupted from 19:00 onwards on Fridays and Saturdays from this weekend until June 19.
“Customers are advised to check before they travel and use buses to complete their journeys where required.
“Night services on London Overground will run as planned on Friday and Saturday nights between Highbury and Islington and New Cross Gate.”
An RMT vote on the strikes ends on Monday (January 10) and the result will be announced on the same day.
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