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London Evening Standard - 2021-11-25

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Union insists Tube strike will go ahead as Tf L chief warns of bankruptcy risk

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Ross Lydall City Hall Editor

THE 24-hour Tube strike due to start early tomorrow morning will go ahead, union bosses insisted today. Transport for London said there would be “little or no service” on five lines — the Victoria, Central, Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee — from 4.30am as a result of the RMT walk-out. Further action is due to start at 8.30pm on Saturday on the Victoria and Central lines and last until 4.30am on Sunday — blighting efforts to restart the Night Tube on those two lines. The RMT’s confirmation of action — while hinting at a willingness to restart talks — came as further details emerged of cuts that will be needed if TfL fails to secure funds from the Government to maintain the transport network. TfL finance chief Simon Kilonback said it could be forced into the “full closure” of a Tube line or “smaller reductions across the whole [Underground] network”. He said there was a risk that TfL would have to issue a “section 114 notice” — effectively declaring itself bankrupt and handing responsibility for services back to the Government. Last week TfL said it was at risk of having to axe 18 per cent of bus services and nine per cent of Tube services. DLR and London Overground services are also at risk, Heidi Alexander, the deputy mayor for transport, revealed this week. Mayor Sadiq Khan has requested an urgent meeting with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, but has yet to receive a reply. TfL commissioner Andy Byford told the TfL finance committee there was “less than three weeks to save TfL and the London recovery”. He said: “I never thought I would say this but getting the Elizabeth line across the line seems a darn site easier than trying to sort this one out.” TfL today appealed to the RMT to call off the strike. The union said it was “available for further talks even at this late stage”. But it said the changes to drivers’ rotas, requiring them to work about four Night Tube shifts a year, would wreck their work-life balance. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success. “Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.” TfL said the RMT hadn’t presented “any workable alternatives” to the roster changes and refused a recent offer to jointly review the Night Tube after a trial period.

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