Another tube strike? What's going on?
This one's all about the night tube. All night running on certain lines on weekends may be great for us, but someone has to drive the trains, staff the stations and monitor the control rooms. Unions — the RMT, TSSA, ASLEF and Unite — are unhappy about the pay being offered to work overnight and how shifts will be rostered.
London Underground says most staff won't be affected — the night tube will run on five out of 11 lines, and even then not all of them (e.g., not the Bank branch of the Northern line) — and that nobody will be asked to work more than their current hours. The unions say it's a question of when those hours will be worked and work-life balance.
Could the strike be called off?
[17:10pm, 7 July update: the strike is now confirmed with tubes winding down on Wednesday from 6pm]
Doesn't look like it, but never say never. Talks did take place on Monday and LU offered a new pay deal: a 2% increase for all staff, £500 extra for staff on lines running the night tube and another £2,000 for drivers. However, LU said it needed a response by 6.30pm on Monday; that gave the unions around four hours to consult with members and that simply wasn't feasible.
ASLEF says the strike is on because it hasn't had enough time to study the new offer. The TSSA has also rejected the offer and says the unions are available for talks on Tuesday. The RMT will recommend its members reject the offer, and called it a "cynical and divisive attempt to undermine our solidarity" — perhaps because it favoured drivers, who are generally members of ASELF. Why might that matter? Well...
Will any trains run?
In recent strikes, LU has been able to run a reduced service. That's because not all unions have walked out together — if the RMT and TSSA strike, that still leaves all the ASLEF drivers clocking on to run trains. This time everybody's walking out. LU expects a total shutdown of services on the tube.
It's worth noting that the DLR, Overground and TfL Rail will run as normal, as will buses. Obviously they'll all be much, much busier than usual, as will non-Transport for London rail services. (Oh, and RMT members on First Great Western are also striking for 48 hours from 6.30pm on Wednesday.)
It's also worth noting that Overground and DLR stations that connect with LU stations could well be affected, namely: West Ham, Stratford, Canning Town, Blackhorse Road, Highbury, Whitechapel, Canada Water and Bank, plus the line between Harrow & Wealdstone and Queens Park.
Fine. When is this strike happening, then?
Members of the RMT, TSSA and Unite are striking for 24 hours from 6.30pm on Wednesday 8 July. ASLEF drivers will strike for 24 hours from 9.30pm on Wednesday 8 July. So expect a gradual shutdown of the tube network on Wednesday evening and no service at all on Thursday.