Khan ‘hopeful’ of averting London Overground strikes

More than 300 staff on the network are set to walk out for 48 hours on 19th February and again on 4th March, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

London Overground

Sadiq Khan has said he is “hopeful” a resolution will be found to stop London Overground staff going on strike in February and March.

More than 300 security, control, station and revenue staff on the network are set to walk out for 48 hours on Monday, 19th February and for another 48 hours on Monday, 4th March.

The strikes were announced today (Tuesday 30th) by the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT). RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has said his members were “furious” they had been given a “below inflation pay offer”.

Arriva Rail London, which holds the contract to run London Overground services, said it had offered a “good pay award”.

The London mayor said he hoped the strikes can be averted, telling the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I’m always keen to encourage TfL [Transport for London] to sit down with those that represent hard-working staff to resolve these things amicably.

“We know last year was a really tough year for inflation, really tough in relation to the cost of living crisis. So I understand why many of those working in the public sector are struggling to make ends meet.

“Where it’s possible, we try and resolve things amicably – and I’m hopeful we can resolve this amicably as well.”

Earlier this month, Khan unexpectedly found £30million of extra funds from City Hall to boost the annual pay rise for 16,000 tube staff. It led the RMT to suspend action that would have shut the London Underground from Sunday, 7th January until Friday, 12th January.

The Labour mayor’s critics in the London Assembly’s Tory group called it an “ill-judged intervention” which had “completely undermined TfL management and its industrial relations strategy”.

The mayor said those tubes strikes would have seriously damaged London’s economy, including a hit to the hospitality sector of up to £50m alone.

Commenting on the announcement of the upcoming London Overground strikes, City Hall Conservatives posted on Twitter: “How long will it take Sadiq Khan to shake the magic money tree this time?”

TfL has urged the RMT to continue to engage with Arriva Rail London “to try to resolve this dispute”.

Lynch has said: “London Overground workers do an important job delivering services for TfL and supporting passengers on journeys throughout London.

“If this dispute cannot be resolved then RMT is more than prepared for a sustained period of industrial action to get London Overground workers the pay rise they deserve.”

Steve Best, managing director at Arriva Rail London, has said: “We are hugely disappointed to hear of the RMT union’s decision to stage industrial action on the London Overground in February and March.

“We believe we have offered a good pay award in comparison not only to our industry, but other industries and businesses in the UK too. We remain committed to engaging with the RMT in the hope of resolving this dispute.”

He added that “robust contingency plans” would be in place ahead of any strikes.

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