Women’s safety debate rages as union confirms strikes on the night tube this weekend

By Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

Disruption to the newly reopened night tube as a result of strikes will “leave many Londoners without a safe route home” as the debate about women’s safety is reignited.

The RMT union has confirmed that its members are set to continue a series of walkouts this weekend over a dispute about rosters used to staff the night tube.

TfL has warned of “severe disruption” to the Victoria and Central lines between 7pm and 4:39am on both Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4, but the City Hall Tories have called on Sadiq Khan to “face down the RMT and end these strikes”.

London Assembly Member Emma Best said: “Today’s strike action is reckless and irresponsible. Disrupting the night tube will leave many Londoners without a safe route home and hurt our night-time economy. Sadiq Khan needs to face down the RMT and end these strikes.”

Assembly Member Best has previously called on the Mayor of London to fully reinstate all five night tube lines as they provide “not only a safe route home but a safe haven for women and girls at night”.

Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, has said that women’s lack of confidence about having a safe and affordable way to get home at night can impact “whether they feel able to go out at all”.

Ms Simon said: “Thousands of women called for London’s Night Tube to be re-opened as part of the national conversation still taking place about women’s safety after the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

“Women’s lack of confidence that they have a safe and affordable way to get home after a night out or when they finish work late at night, will impact on the ‘safety work’ they end up doing or whether they feel able to go out at all – but these are not calculations we should be forced to make.

“It is the pervasive nature of male violence against women that leads to concerns about whether there are enough safe routes to travel around the city, and there is still too little being done to address that.”

She added that “at the heart of this is the failure to prevent male violence against women”.

RMT members will walk out once again this weekend after crunch talks with TfL broke down earlier this week.

In a letter to RMT members, general secretary Mick Lynch said that the union offered to suspend industrial action if TfL “laid out a clear road map to move back to the pre-pandemic night tube arrangements”, but that this proposal was “rejected by management”.

Ahead of the first set of walkout last week, Mr Lynch said that “no one has worked harder to ensure a safe environment for women on London Underground than the RMT”.

He said: “While Tube bosses have axed staff and left stations routinely unstaffed, with all of the obvious risks, we have campaigned relentlessly for the front line, physical ‎presence of visible staff on stations and platforms.”

Around 30,000 passengers used the Night Tube last weekend after it opened for the first time in 20 months, though TfL has said that passenger numbers were at a third of pre-pandemic levels.



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