Crisis talks are to take place to try to avert Central line strikes on the last shopping weekend before Christmas.
Central line Tube strike: Crisis talks in bid to stop London Underground walkout in Christmas run-up
Business leaders warned the strikes will damage London’s economy as shoppers flock to the West End.
The Central line is the key Tube route to the area, with stations at Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Bond Street and Marble Arch. RMT leaders have ordered the walkout by train drivers over issues including demands for reinstatement of a driver sacked for failing a random drugs test. Tube bosses say there will be little or no service during the strike taking place from 8pm on Friday until 2am on Saturday — and then again from 4am until 8pm on Saturday.
It will mean no Friday night Central line Night Tube service and little or no service on the Waterloo & City line, which uses the same staff, on Saturday.
Nick Dent, London Underground director of line operations, condemned the strike as “totally unjustifiable”. He said: “The action before Christmas is over their demand for the reinstatement of a driver who failed a drugs test, but safety is always our top priority and we will never waver from that.”
RMT leader Mick Cash said industrial relations on the line “have been at breaking point for some time now” and accused LU management of “taking a conscious decision to up the ante by attempting to single out and pick off individual members of staff”.
A strike over separate issues by RMT staff on the Bakerloo line is set to take place on Boxing Day. The first of three more 24-hour walkouts by RMT train guards on South Western Railway, disrupting all routes to and from mainline Waterloo station, is set to go ahead on Saturday then again on Thursday 27 and Monday December 31. The row is over changes to the role of the guard and driver-only operation (DOO).
Tube unions are preparing for a pay dispute next year when its four-year deal ends in March. They will lodge demands for “substantial increases”. It was revealed yesterday that nine Tube drivers earn more than £100,000 a year.