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Tuesday 21st
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

Drivers ballot on strike action after bosses lock them out of promotion

DRIVERS on London’s new Night Tube have been “picked out” and denied the opportunity of becoming full-time, rail unions said as they opened a strike ballot yesterday.

Part-time drivers, now represented by unions RMT and Aslef, were recruited when the service launched last summer.

Tube drivers are normally drawn from the wider London Underground workforce, but part-timers have been barred from moving into full-time vacancies for the first 18 months. Part-time station staff, however, are eligible to apply.

Aslef London Underground organiser Finn Brennan said: “The vast majority of Night Tube drivers took up the job because they saw it as a stepping stone to a full-time train driver’s job.

“They believed LU’s assurances that they would have opportunities to progress, not to just spend year after year working every Friday and Saturday night.”

He said industrial action was the only option as management had not listened to staff concerns.

The current policy would mean that “all full-time vacancies will be filled and it could be many years before night Tube drivers have a chance to go full-time,” he added.

Drivers have also reportedly been denied overtime premiums unless they work more than 35 hours a week — despite their contracts being for just 16 hours.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is outrageous that London Underground have decided to discriminate against their Night Tube drivers.

“This is a senseless and damaging policy that picks out one group of staff for negative treatment, and of course the drivers are angry and that is why we are balloting for action.

“RMT would call on London Underground to see sense, stop these stupid attacks on career progression and fair reward for overtime working and confirm that this discrimination against the Night Tube drivers has been lifted.”

The launch of the night Tube was delayed for almost a year after a dispute between management and workers over pay and conditions.

London Underground operations director Peter McNaught said: “Night Tube services have been running since August last year in line with agreements reached with the unions.

“We invite [the unions] to meet with us to discuss any issues that need to be resolved and there is no need to threaten industrial action.”