The Latest on the London Underground Train Drivers Disputes

The Latest on the London Underground Train Drivers Disputes

richard_mcmunn_ At the end of April a planned three day strike for London Underground Train Drivers was set. Despite the planned strike the disputes are still ongoing as May continues to move forward. The dispute is all about 950 jobs that are set to be lost by Train Drivers and London Underground workers. Ticket office closures are set to happen due to automated ticket machines. Fewer people are needed to handle ticket sales because of the machines, so the proposed option is to have a few staff members on hand to help with the automated machines, but largely make jobs obsolete. Yet, this is not the only issue. There is a larger issue happening as part of the London Underground which is all about driverless trains.

TFL Announces More Driverless Trains

Transport for London (TFL) announced that more driverless trains are going to be added to the stock in order to have full automation in a few years. With train drivers as part of a Union this makes for a huge dispute over the entire thought. Unions are now in talks with TFL with regard to their train drivers and the proposed automated systems. Already the London Underground has automated trains, in which the drivers just control the doors and start the train. The rest including the stops and speed is all automated. Drivers are onboard to make certain passengers are safe, but have little to do as long as the system is in proper working order.

The thought process behind more automated trains is time. There is more demand for the London Underground as more passengers use it. With automated systems the trains are supposed to run with more frequency than a train driver can make them. Paris has already automated and had disputes; however, it did not stop Paris from becoming fully automated. The trains can run 85 seconds faster in London with more automated trains.

Resolution from the Underground

The RMT has stated that those with London Underground jobs in ticket offices and as train drivers may not be forced to leave, but there are still going to be some major affects. The London Underground has no plans to force people to quit, but they are going to require staff members to reapply for their jobs, take on other positions or even see pay cuts.

London Underground Train


Is the Dispute just Media Play?

Recent news has also suggested that it is not the train workers at all that are proposing the strike. It might not be the train drivers and other staff members that want to negotiate for saving their jobs if indeed that is an issue given the London Underground statements. What some believe is that the Unions are fighting for a new Union Boss. The prior Union Boss died leaving the position vacant.

The strike in April and the latest 5 day strike breaking down talks are seen as the fault of the Union bosses rather than the union members. According to one news article only 30% of members support a strike.

No End is Being Seen Yet

With a lot of politics and talks happening there does not seem to be a resolution on the table that will make both parties happy. In all likelihood the disputes will continue towards an end where the system becomes fully automated.

The London Underground will still need to have a staff member onboard the train to avoid any issues as humans can always think better in emergency situations than machines, but training may be considered worth less pay.

London underground conductor


For staff members it is a matter of supporting their family of one or more. A reduction in pay is going to hurt. A loss of job will be difficult and chances are the London Underground has plans for offering early retirement packages for train drivers who are making more money per hour.

Those in the Union are still trying to stop any ticket offices from being closed and all jobs saved. Plenty of pledges have been made and certainly there are protests occurring. For the moment no answer has been found. Proposition after proposition is going around, but only the 48 hour original strike was suspended. Talks are still not going the right way for the Union and chances are well into June the disputes will continue.

For train drivers it is mostly about the safety of passengers, the need to provide communication that ensures safe passage to all, and the love of their job that will continue to push them to save as many jobs as possible.