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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Gwyn Topham

London Underground: planned tube strikes this week called off

London Underground train
The RMT had planned strikes on London Underground on Wednesday and Friday. Photograph: Alberto Pezzali/AP

Two planned strikes by London Underground workers this week have been called off, the RMT union announced.

Its members had been due to strike on Wednesday and Friday, closing the tube over plans to reduce staff numbers by up to 600 posts to save costs.

The union said the strikes had been called off after “significant progress” in talks with London Underground at conciliation service Acas, although there were still elements of dispute and wider negotiations continued over pensions and working agreements.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said the threat of a strike had led to “securing this victory”, adding: “We still remain in dispute over outstanding issues around pensions and working agreements and will continue to pursue a negotiated settlement.”

Transport for London said the resolution was “good news for London” and reiterated that no employee would lose their job.

Disruption for rail passengers will continue on Wednesday, however, as the national strike by Aslef train drivers over a separate dispute will still go ahead. No trains will run on most routes in England, and cross-border services to Wales and Scotland will also be affected.

Only a few train companies in England, including Great Western, Greater Anglia, Southern and LNER, will run services.

The union’s second 24-hour walkout action in four days is timed to coincide with the final day of the Conservative conference in Manchester and is the 14th stoppage by Aslef since the dispute started in June 2022 across all the train operators contracted to the Department for Transport.

Aslef has said it was targeting the governing party’s conference after train drivers had gone more than four years without a pay rise.

Mick Whelan, the Aslef general secretary, has said there had been no further talks with the government or rail firms since April, after the union rejected a “risible” offer.

The Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, has said further talks could only happen if drivers would agree to change working conditions.

The strike raises the prospect of Rishi Sunak announcing in his conference speech the cancellation of future HS2 high-speed train services from London to Manchester, on a day with no trains running between the cities.

Whelan added his voice to those opposing the cancellation of HS2’s northern leg, which he said “doesn’t make sense”. He said: “If you don’t finish it now, there’s no point in what we’ve done to build it already.”

An overtime ban by drivers will continue through the week until Friday, forcing some operators to reduce schedules and increasing the likelihood of further short-notice cancellations.

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