Tube strikes called off after talks between Aslef and Transport for London

A Tube strike that would have brought the London Underground to a standstill next Monday has been called off.

The Tube drivers' union Aslef announced the breakthrough on Thursday afternoon after successful negotiations with representatives from Transport for London.

It means a second walkout planned for Saturday May 4 - the day that mayoral votes will be counted - has also been scrapped.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s London district organiser for London Underground, said: "I’m very pleased. It’s always better to deal with issues through talking and discussion."

Aslef had called the strike over the feared impact of proposed changes to working practices.

But it said that after two days of "quite intense" negotiations with TfL an agreement had been reached that enabled it to cancel the walkouts.

The decision to recommend to the Aslef executive - the formal way a strike is cancelled - was made unanimously by about 70 local union reps.

Aslef’s executive rubber-stamped the recommendation on Thursday afternoon, meaning the strike action is cancelled.

Mr Brennan, asked if the closeness of the strikes to the May 2 mayoral election had influenced TfL, told the Standard: "I think the fact that strike action was planned clearly concentrates minds.

"It was nothing to do with pay. We were not asking for any more money or any improvements in conditions. We were simply making sure that any change that is proposed is done through discussion and negotiation."

Aslef had feared that if the changes had gone ahead then 300 driver posts would have been lost.

The changes would have meant drivers would have spent more time driving trains and would have had to travel between their depot and where the trains are stabled overnight in their own time.

For example, drivers on the Victoria line clock on and off at a depot at Seven Sisters but the trains are stabled at Northumberland Park.

As part of the deal, TfL will recruit a 15-strong team of “transport support and enforcement officers” to increase efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour on the Tube.

There will also be improvements to the security of drivers' cabs. Three-day training "refresher courses" for drivers, which were suspended during the pandemic, will be restarted.

TfL will also axe its “trains modernisation team”, meaning any future changes to working practices will be arrived through formal negotiations.

Mayor Sadiq Khan, who faced criticism from the Conservatives when he found £30m for pay rises to get a RMT Tube strike averted in January, said: "This shows the difference the trade unions and TfL, and a mayor who is in the side of Londoners, can make.

"Earlier on this year, in January, there was going to be five days of industrial action. We stepped in, worked with TfL and the trade unions, and that was called off.

"The only reason for this strike even being considered was because of the conditions the Government has attached [to previous TfL bailouts]."

Asked if he would make a “no strikes on the Tube” pledge if re-elected, as he did prior to the 2016 mayoral election, Mr Khan promised only “fewer strikes going forward”.