London Tube and Overground strike LIVE: Sadiq Khan claims Government ‘provoking’ unions into strikes

·17 min read
London Tube and Overground strike LIVE: Sadiq Khan claims Government ‘provoking’ unions into strikes

Sadiq Khan has warned the Government may be “deliberately provoking” the unions into strike action following yet another 24-hour walkout.

Speaking as Londoners were told not to travel on the Underground on Friday, Mr Khan said: “The way the Government is behaving, it’s almost like they’re deliberately provoking strikes across the country, not just in the transport sector but in other sectors, as a precursor for legislation to curtail the rights of trade unions to go on strike.”

Around 10,000 members of the RMT union are staging a 24-hour walkout in an ongoing dispute over jobs and pensions, while 1,100 members of Unite union are striking on the Underground, Croydon Tramlink, and Victoria coach station.

In addition, 400 London Overground workers employed by Arriva Rail London are separately engaging in a walkout, as are bus drivers working for United London, affecting 57 routes through west and south-west London and parts of Surrey.

The fresh round of industrial action bringing London’s transport network to a standstill comes a day after rail strikes which left only around one in five services running.

Commenting on the walkout, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch apologised to commuters for the disruption but insisted strike action must be taken in order to protect the union’s members.

Seperately, Grant Shapps has indicated railway reforms will be rolled out if the Government’s deal is not accepted.

16:49 , John Dunne

Liz Truss has tweeted a warning to unions as RMT members bring the tube network to a standstill. Union leader Mick Lynch said yesterday his members would strike for “as long as it takes” to get an acceptable pay deal.

How the strikes will impact the weekend

15:56 , Bill Mcloughlin

Sam Tarry posts message of support for rail workers

15:17 , Bill Mcloughlin

Diane Abbott joins picket line

14:46 , Bill Mcloughlin

Standard speaks to tube driver bringing Londoners joy with his singing

14:14 , Daniel Keane

The “rogue” tube driver behind the infamous Whitney Houston Euston train announcements has been told to ‘calm down’ by TfL management after going viral for bringing a smile to Londoner’s faces.

Aklaqur Rohman, 55, has worked on the London Underground for 22 years after graduating to become a tube driver in just seven years.

Speaking from an RMT picket at Seven Sisters today complete with lamb chops, BBQ and reggae music blasting behind him, Mr Rohman spoke to the Standard about his new-found fame.

“I love seeing Londoner’s reactions it makes my day seeing them smile.”

He said his family, including his two young daughters, do not think he is a great singer but that won’t put him off.

“I’m not good, I’m not going to win X Factor but I’m passionate”, he laughed.

Read our full exclusive story here.

Cuts to bus services averted as new Govt funding announced

13:58 , Daniel Keane

Severe cuts to bus services in England have been avoided due to new Government funding.

The Department for Transport announced that up to £130 million will be made available to keep services running.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "This funding will ensure millions across the country can continue to use vital bus services, and brings the total we've provided to the sector throughout the pandemic to almost £2 billion.

"At a time when people are worried about rising costs, it's more important than ever we save these bus routes for the millions who rely on them for work, school and shopping."

Service launched to compete with Avanti amid severe disruption

13:44 , Daniel Keane

A heritage train company is launching a charter service between London and the North West to help passengers frustrated by Avanti West Coast's severe disruption.

Crewe-based Locomotive Services Group will begin operating a first class-only charter service to and from London Euston on Friday.

The train's air-conditioned carriages are restored British Rail Mark 3 stock with three-abreast seating, tables, power points and large windows.

The service will only operate on Fridays, and will run at 110mph using electric locomotives.

It will depart from Crewe at 2.29pm, running non-stop to arrive at London Euston at 4.12pm.

The train will set off to return north at 5.27pm, calling at Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Crewe and Wilmslow before arriving at Manchester Piccadilly at 8.45pm.

Watch: Pay Strikes Freeze London's Transport Network

13:28 , Daniel Keane

Grant Shapps branded “clueless” over rail disruption

12:55 , Bill Mcloughlin

Grant Shapps has been accused of being “clueless” about rail disruption after overstating the number of trains running between Manchester and London.

Mr Shapps insisted that is incorrect and there are four services an hour, before later telling the programme there is one an hour on “strike days” caused by “unofficial” industrial action.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said Mr Shapps does not “have the first idea how bad the disruption he signed-off on is”, branding him “clueless”.

Analysis of train timetables by the PA news agency shows one train per hour is scheduled in each direction between Manchester and London until September 10.

As BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt questioned Mr Shapps, he mentioned the current frequency of services.

Mr Shapps replied: “You incorrectly told your viewers there is only one train running from Manchester to London. That is not the case even under the reduced timetable, it is four trains an hour.”

Great Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham wrote on Twitter: “I can’t believe I’m watching this.

“What hope do we have when the Transport Secretary doesn’t know the details of the reduced timetable he signed off?”

The Department for Transport later clarified that Mr Shapps was referring to the total frequency of trains run by Avanti West Coast, which since August 14 has been cut to four per hour in each direction for all locations to and from London, including Manchester.

Signalling failure at Kentish Town

12:27 , Bill Mcloughlin

Away from the strike action in the capital, Thameslink has reported a signalling failure at Kentish Town today.

Latest pictures as Londoners face travel chaos

12:09 , Bill Mcloughlin

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Tube strike at Stratford station this morning (Jeremy Selwyn)
Tube strike at Stratford station this morning (Jeremy Selwyn)
 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

Mick Lynch ‘sorry’ for travel disruption

11:01 , Bill Mcloughlin

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch has apologised to commuters for the travel disruption but insisted strike action was necessary to defend the union’s members.

He said: “We’re very sorry that people are inconvenienced. I mean, we’re inconveniencing people that are in the same boat as us. We’re ordinary men and women that want to do our jobs and provide a service, but when you’re being cut to pieces by an employer, and by the Government, you’ve got to make a stand.

“So we’re making that stand on behalf of our members, but many other workers in Britain are suffering some very similar things and you’re going to see a wave of this type of action. We can’t stand by and watch our conditions be chopped up. Otherwise, it’ll just be a race to the bottom for all British workers.

“If we’re not showing them that we’re being serious, they will just chop up members terms and conditions and their pensions. If we’re not invited to negotiations, what other means can we have to influence those negotiations?

“So we’ve got to show them that we’re deadly serious about the future of the services across all of TfL, but also across our members’ conditions, because we don’t know what they’re discussing.

“It’s like being locked out of a process that we should rightly be at the table, and that’s not acceptable to any of the unions, or London Underground or TfL. And it’s got to be resolved.”

Sadiq Khan concerned Government is trying to ‘provoke' unions

10:39 , Bill Mcloughlin

London mayor, Sadiq Khan has admittd his concern that the Government may be “deliberately provoking” the unions into strike action.

“I’m concerned that the government is almost deliberately provoking industrial action in London”, Mr Khan said in an interview with Sky News on Friday morning.

Seperately, he told the Press Association: “The way the Government is behaving, it’s almost like they’re deliberately provoking strikes across the country, not just in the transport sector but in other sectors, as a precursor for legislation to curtail the rights of trade unions to go on strike.”

Mr Khan said he and the striking RMT union were “on the same side here, nobody wants the Government to be attaching unreasonable conditions to our deal”.

He said: “I’m keen to make sure we get the best possible deal for TfL (Transport for London) because we won’t get a national recovery without a London recovery.

“We simply will not get a London recovery unless TfL fires on all cylinders. What we don’t want are unreasonable draconian strings attached by the Government.”

Mr Khan added: “Today it’s ordinary Londoners, commuters and businesses who are caught in the crossfire - the Government and Grant Shapps aren’t affected at all.”

Liz Truss: I will crack down on strikes

10:28 , Bill Mcloughlin

RMT representative explains why the union is striking

10:02 , Bill Mcloughlin

Speaking to the Standard’s, Ross Lydall, the RMT’s Bakerloo representative, Daniel Randall has explained the reasons behind the strike action.

Talking from outside a closed Oxford Circus station, he claimed the dispute with the Government and TfL will last for as long as needed until they get “a settlement which we find satisfactory”.

Londoners hit out at latest strike

09:30 , Bill Mcloughlin

Some commuters have hit out at what they termed, the “selfish” unions for inflicting strikes on people trying to get to work who can’t afford to work from home or take taxis.

Construction worker Ayrton Lambird was trying to get into the capital from Kent.

He told the Standard: “Unions are only trying to help those currently working. We are all in the same shoes, all affected, all looking for pay increases.

“What makes you laugh is all the time they are doing strikes, those train staff wanting pay increase, do not get paid.”

Barista Davide Morratti, 21, was stuck at a closed Finsbury Park station after he forgot the strikes were on.

“It’s horrible”, he said.

“I think the unions are being quite selfish. I could just about afford to take a taxi but it would be about half my wage so it would be burning money. I just hope my boss understands.”

TfL responds to ‘secret negotiations’ claims from the RMT

09:00 , Bill Mcloughlin

In response to RMT claims that Transport for London (TfL) is having secret negotiations with the Government about cutting jobs and pensions, TfL’s Nick Dent said the transport body has been working with ministers “all the way through the pandemic to try to secure a long-term funding settlement for London”.

The director of customer operations told Sky News: “We of course conduct those negotiations confidentially. They are market-sensitive. We’ve explained that very clearly to the trade unions.

“But we have been working with all of the trade unions, including the RMT, we’ve been very open and transparent about the impact of the pandemic on our finances all the way through the last couple of years. We’ve assured them that we’ll continue to keep them updated.

“But, importantly, we have assured them that there are no proposals currently to change the TfL pension scheme, and if there were proposals in the future, then of course they will be consulted in detail.

“They’ll be involved very closely.”

More pictures from today’s strike

08:29 , Bill Mcloughlin

Commuters have been advised not to use the Tube today (Barney Davis ES)
Commuters have been advised not to use the Tube today (Barney Davis ES)
Finsbury Park station (Barney Davis ES)
Finsbury Park station (Barney Davis ES)

Commuter begins gruelling two-hour journey as strike hits

08:06 , Bill Mcloughlin

Commuters are being rejected by a popular, but packed London Bridge bound 141 bus at Turnpike Lane.

Isaac Kojo, 33, was waiting for a bus on the first leg of his gruelling near two-hour commute to West Croydon on Friday morning.

He told the Standard: “The price of everything has gone up so your stuck just waiting for the bus. But I’m sure that it is affecting tube staff too. I think they have the right to ask for more.

“Luckily I spoke to the boss and he is running late too. “I’m just going to ride the bus and pray that a station on the way is open.”

A picture from Turnpike Lane station (Barney Davis ES)
A picture from Turnpike Lane station (Barney Davis ES)
Isaac Kojo (Barney Davis ES)
Isaac Kojo (Barney Davis ES)

Do not travel on the Tube today, TfL warns

07:58 , Bill Mcloughlin

Nick Dent, director of customer operations at TfL, told the Standard: “We are running a very limited service in parts of the Underground. Unfortunately the advice for customers today is not to travel on the Tube.

“We do have other TfL services running - the Elizabeth line is up and running this morning, the DLR is running and there are Overground services but some of the bus services are disrupted by separate Unite action.”

Asked whether it was time to end the strikes, Mr Dent said: “Nobody wins out of industrial action. We know how devastating these strikes are for London at such an important time in its recovery.

“We are talking with the trade unions regularly. We met with them this week. What we would ask them today is to work with us meaningfully. We would ask them to stop disrupting London with this unnecessary action.”

Video: Long queues for buses outside Liverpool Street station

07:53 , Bill Mcloughlin

Railway reforms will be imposed if no deal agreed, says Grant Shapps

07:41 , Bill Mcloughlin

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted reforms across the rail network will be pushed through if the unions do not accept the Government’s proposal.

Asked by Sky News if compulsory redundancies were on the table for rail workers, Grant Shapps said: "The deal that is on the table actually means largely no compulsory redundancies at all.

"If the unions are not prepared to put that deal to your membership we will never know whether members would accept it.

"What I do know and I can say for sure is if we can't get this settled in the way that we are proposing, which is 'please put the deal to your membership' then we will have to move to what is called a section 188; it is a process of actually requiring these changes to go into place so it becomes mandated.

"That is the direction that this is moving in now."

Mr Shapps claimed that outdated work practices needed to be updated, adding: "If we can't get those modernisations in place we will have to impose those modernisations but we would much rather do it through these offers actually being put to their members."

Pictured: Commuters brave travel disruption as strikes hit

07:30 , Josh Salisbury

Londoners have been pictured struggling with the travel disruption because of the strikes this morning.

Stratford Station in east London this morning (Jeremy Selwyn)
Stratford Station in east London this morning (Jeremy Selwyn)
Bus queues at Stratford (Jeremy Selwyn)
Bus queues at Stratford (Jeremy Selwyn)
Trains at Stanmore as Tube strike hits (Jeremy Selwyn)
Trains at Stanmore as Tube strike hits (Jeremy Selwyn)

Which bus services are affected by strike today?

07:26 , Josh Salisbury

Bus drivers working for United London are also among those taking strike action today, affecting 57 routes through west and south-west London and parts of Surrey.

TfL advises it will impact services on the following routes: 9, 18, 33, 49, 65, 70, 71, 72, 85, 94, 105, 110, 116, 117, 148, 203, 211, 216, 220, 223, 224, 235, 258, 265, 266, 272, 281, 283, 290, 293, 371, 404, 406, 411, 418, 419, 423, 440, 465, 467, 470, 481, C1, E1, E3, H17, H22, H32, H37, H91, H98, K1, K2, K3, K4, K5, N9, N18, N33, N65, N72, N266 and S3.

Lynch: We’re striking to protect pay and pensions

07:19 , Josh Salisbury

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has said that London Overground and Underground workers are striking to protect their pensions, secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions.

“Tube bosses are having secret negotiations with the government about slashing jobs and undermining working conditions and pensions all in the name of removing subsidies,” he said in a statement confirming the strike on Thursday.

“This government-led assault on staff will be disastrous as no other comparable urban transport system in the world operates without financial support from central government to ensure good and reliable services.

“The government needs to stop trying to get services on the cheap by slashing jobs and wages and invest in what should be a world class transport network.”

Shapps: British public ‘fed up with extremist union bosses’

07:10 , Nicholas Cecil

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has warned that the industrial action was hitting millions of workers, including many on lower wages than rail staff.

He told The Standard: “The union barons like to pretend they are representing those hardest-up.

“But in fact they are preventing these workers from getting to their job and earning a living – the last thing this country needs during Putin’s cost-of-living crisis.

“So, transport union chiefs should stop inflicting triple misery on London with rail, Tube and bus strikes.”

He also stressed: “The British public having spent £16 billion supporting the railways through Covid are fed up with extremist union bosses calling their members out on strike.

“That’s why I’m preparing 16 changes to union legislation to bring dinosaur industrial relations into the 21st Century.”

However, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch accused the Government of “waging an ideological war against rail workers” rather than seeking to strike a deal to end the strikes.

Which TfL services will be affected by strikes today?

07:04 , Josh Salisbury

The majority of TfL’s services will be impacted by strike action today, it has advised.

There will be severe disruption on all lines, with little to no services throughout the day and no Night Tube.

The London Overground will be disrupted with a late start and there will be no Night Overground.

Trams are running a reduced service. The DLR’s services to Bank are running 07:00-18:30, and all other DLR services are running as normal.

Meanwhile the Elizabeth line will run as normal from 7am, although after 22:30, trains may not stop at all stations on its central section from Paddington to Abbey Wood.