Posted 15th May 2020 | 6 Comments

RMT threatens strike over government’s ‘austerity’ TfL deal

MORE details have emerged of the terms of the Government’s £1.9 billion rescue deal for Transport for London. The RMT has been angered by the implications, and is threatening industrial action.

The Department for Transport yielded just before the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan would have started to withdraw services, and agreed a grant of just over £1 billion plus a loan of £505 million. The total support could rise to £1.9 billion if this proves necessary later in the year.

In return, the DfT will take part in the management of Transport for London, saying: ‘To put TfL on a sustainable footing for the longer term and help safeguard its future, the mayor has agreed that the government will carry out an immediate and broad-ranging review of the organisation’s future financial position and structure, including the potential for efficiencies. Two special representatives will represent the government on TfL’s board, its finance committee and its programmes and investment committee, in order to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer.’

Fares will also rise next year by RPI + 1 per cent, after the four-year freeze introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan following his election.

The Mayor has admitted that the deal was not in line with his wishes. He said: ‘I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners – this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running.

‘In the last few years, London has been the only major city in western Europe that hasn’t received direct Government funding to run day to day transport services since it was cut by the last Government. This means we rely very heavily on passenger fares to pay for the services we run. Fares income has fallen by 90 per cent in the last two months because Londoners have done the right thing and stayed at home – so there simply isn’t enough money coming in to pay for our services.’

Meanwhile, the RMT has threatened to stage strikes. General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘London transport workers have been vital to fighting Covid-19 and any attacks on their pay, jobs and conditions arising from this imposed settlement will be a complete betrayal.

‘We will be seeking an urgent meeting with both the Mayor and secretary of state for transport to make clear London transport workers will not pay the cost of the crisis.

‘It looks like Boris Johnson is back in charge of transport in London. We will not accept one penny of austerity cuts imposed by Whitehall or passed on by City Hall as part of this funding package and our resistance will include strike action if necessary.

‘We are also deeply concerned that this is a sign of wider austerity conditions to be imposed on the transport industry across the UK.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Paul, London

    It's a union dominated industry and this should come as no surprise. The sooner the government can teach the unions that our transport infrastructure doesn't exist as a job creation/protection scheme, or a medium for them to vent their political desires at the expense of the public, the better off the nation will be.

  • Michael, Reading, Berks, EU

    Austerity never works. It is a race to the bottom of the barrel. The only objective it achieves is a political paradigm shift, to the Right!
    Two Billion pounds 'invested' in TfL. All such money 'invested' in our Infrastructure and Economy is simple to offset.
    The Royal Mint stamping out £1 million and £10 million coins.
    Two Billion would be 2000 of the £1 million coins or 200 of the £10 million coins, created and put in vault in Basement of Bank of England.
    Stop this borrowing from the financial markets as they should Not be profiting from National and International Government investment spending.

  • Matthew Ellis, Woking

    It will be interesting to see how TfL (and the wider rail network) is impacted post-Covid by the likely reduction in commuters given the rapid rise of working from home and the growing suggestion that many will seek to move out of the cities specifically because they no longer ned to be in an office 5 days a week.

    Fewer people on the tubes and busses means less money coming in (or higher fares) and in all likelihood fewer TfL jobs.

    So if the unions strike now, they will simply persuade more to avoid TfL permanently.

  • Nick Fowles, DeLand

    What an appalling joke. The DfT have made a complete hash of running the railways whilst TfL has generally done a far better job under both Conservative and Labour mayors to the point it has shamed the DfT.
    This is a political land grab by an appalling department that should be stripped of all responsibility for railways.
    I hope all Londoners show their displeasure at this undemocratic and shameful power grab by the incompetents.

  • mark, Epsom

    Three months ago, Mick Cash wanted nationalisation and was threatening more strikes on SWR and Northern.
    Fast forward to today, the entire railway network is now state owned, just as he wanted and now he threatens strikes again. Everyone is feeling the pain from Covid-19, why should the rail sector be any different to the rest of us?
    It must be great playing poker with Mick Cash as he gives his game away far to easily. Unite all RMT members against a common enemy and bring the country to a halt, just when we are trying to get off knees.
    In the space of a week, both ASLEF and the RMT have given us a glimpse of the chaos they could cause on a unified railway network and to our chances of getting this country going again.
    This is an embarrassment and any RMT member should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really want to be associated with this, if they do, then ask yourself this, 'When your country really needed you, what difference did you make?'

  • Melvyn, Canvey Island , Essex

    It’s lucky that Captain Tom who raised all those millions for the NHS is not a Chelsea Pensioner given how Boris Johnson has made their Freedom Passes invalid in both rush hours meaning if they go anywhere they will have to pay if they travel in the afternoon peak !

    So much for war time heroes especially as coronavirus is more fatal to the elderly!