London Tube Unions Halt Planned Strike, Cite Talks Progress

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A four-day strike on London’s subway that had been set to start Tuesday evening was postponed until September after unions reported progress in contract talks with management over a planned Night Tube service.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport, TSSA and Unite unions said staff will report for duty as usual in what Unite described as a “goodwill” gesture following negotiations at the state-backed Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

Industrial action has been rescheduled for Sept. 8 and 10, days before the official Sept. 12 start date for Mayor Boris Johnson’s new all-night network. Unions said that any move to run test trains before then will provoke additional measures.

“Our negotiators have been able to make enough significant progress in talks at ACAS over pay, jobs and Night Tube to allow us to suspend this week’s strike dates,” RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said in an e-mail. “We have still not reached a final agreement and as a result we are putting on additional strike action next month. The talks process will continue.”

Transport for London, which oversees the Tube on behalf of Johnson, said the breakthrough was “good news” for the city and followed two weeks of constructive engagement.

The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen union said earlier this month it wouldn’t be joining the new round of strikes. The walkout would have followed one in July and another earlier this month and was scheduled to run for 24 hours from 6.30 p.m. Tuesday and again from 6.30 p.m. Thursday.

‘Sticking Points’

“There are still some remaining sticking points, but we feel sufficient progress has been made to suspend industrial action as an act of goodwill,” Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said in a statement. “We will continue to approach talks with London Underground in a positive manner.”

TSSA also said on its website that the strike had been suspended, while cautioning that the Tube was “not out of the woods yet,” with a number of issues still to be resolved.

London Underground Ltd. resumed talks with the RMT, TSSA, Unite and Aslef Monday after a break for the weekend. The labor groups had been seeking a postponement of the night service while pressing for firmer guarantees on maximum working hours.

Subway workers have been offered a 2 percent pay increase this year and at least 1 percent in 2016 to back the Night Tube, plus a 500-pound ($787) bonus on affected lines and a 2,000-pound lump sum for drivers.

Unions say proposals by themselves don’t take into account the impact on personal lives.

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