Workers on London’s Elizabeth line rail service are set to go on strike after voting overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
Members of Prospect at Rail for London Infrastructure (RfLI) rejected a 4% pay offer for 2022 which the union said was well below current inflation. In a statutory ballot, 94% of members voted for strike action and 92% backed other forms of industrial action. The union said the turnout was “well above” the regulatory threshold of 50%.
The union will now consult on the form and dates of any industrial action but in the current climate of rail strikes and with such support for walkouts among members, full-blown walkouts seem likely.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “Our members have worked incredibly hard to get the Elizabeth Line ready to go safely into operation yet they are being treated significantly worse than equivalent workers on the rest of London’s network.
“The Elizabeth Line itself is now bringing in large extra passenger revenue for TfL and is underspent on its budget so there really ought to be room for some movement on pay.
“Our members don’t want to go on strike but pay is so far behind inflation that they simply cannot manage. We remain open to negotiation and it is our hope that RfLI will come back to the table with an offer sufficient to avert industrial action.”
The line, which opened in May 2022 and connects east, west and central London, could see further disruption as members of a second union vote on industrial action in a separate pay dispute. The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union is currently balloting its members who work on the line over action, with voting due to close on 22 December. The union claims that managers on the line are paid “significantly less” than others performing similar roles elsewhere.
The latest vote for strikes comes amid the worst rail disruption in a generation. More than 40,000 RMT workers around Britain are staging a series of 48-hour walkouts in December in January in the latest round of action which has seen the country’s rail network grind to a halt.
A programme of industrial action since July has repeatedly seen half the country’s rail lines shut and 80% of services scrapped as staff at 14 train operating companies and Network Rail strike over pay and conditions. They have been joined in action by members of the train drivers’ union Aslef, Unite and the TSSA amid wide-reaching national strikes affecting everything from the health and postal services to driving tests.