London Tube strike: Hope for end of dispute after Sadiq Khan signaled acceptance of union demands

Written by Javed Iqbal


openings of an end to the strife that has caused four pipe strikes in three months have increased after Sadiq Khan signaled that he accepted the unions’ demand not to cut staff pensions.

The mayor said he was “not convinced” that Transport to London “final salary” pension scheme, which cost TfL £ 401 million. in contributions last year, had to have its benefits curtailed.

But that happened when 92 percent of RMT members voted to continue the strike on the tube – even though no new dates have been set.

A total of 4,912 members voted for more dropouts, with 424 against. But only 5,344 RMT members – 53 percent of eligible voters – took part in the vote, which renews the union’s legal “mandate” to continue efforts until December 23.

No proposal has been made to cut pensions, but it is one of two main concerns – the other is the loss of 600 station staff posts – that led to RMT union force a closure of the London Underground on 1 and 3 March and 6 and 21 June.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch on Friday described the result of the strike as “fantastic”.

He said: “TfL and the Mayor of London need to seriously reconsider their plans for hundreds of job cuts and try to take hard earned pensions from workers who serve the people of London on a daily basis.

“We are very aware of the funding cuts that the Westminster government has imposed on TfL. However, Mayor Sadiq Khan needs to launch a serious campaign for the people of London to get the capital the funding it deserves for its public transport.

“He should not try to sacrifice our members’ pensions and jobs to fit within the budget constraints set by Boris Johnson.”

Speaking on Thursday afternoon, when TfL received a three-week extension of its current pandemic rescue package from the government, Khan told Standard: “I am fully aware that I am not convinced that there is any reason to change their pensions. , who work for TfL. It is up to the government to do the case.

“I am fully aware that the way to acknowledge the hard work of our transport workers – the many thousands who have kept our city running – should not be to make unilateral changes to their terms and conditions.”

Tory critics responded with alarm to the mayor’s comments. London MP Keith Prince said: “It is a shame if Sadiq Khan decides that he would rather cut bus routes and other TfL services than save £ 182 million a year by reforming TfL pensions.”

An independent review commissioned by Mr Khan in 2020 described the pension scheme as “generous” and said a reform of it could save £ 100 million a year by 2025.

But a fuller review, led by former union chief Sir Brendan Barber and published last month, said a change to the scheme could save up to £ 182.4m. concessions ”and was highly valued by the staff.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday night gave TfL an extension of its financing agreement until July 13 – but made it clear that he wanted a “reset of relations” with City Hall. TfL seeks £ 900 million for the current financial year and a long-term capital investment agreement.

He accused Mr Khan of “campaigns with intimidation and threats”. TfL advises on abolishing 22 bus routes in central London and reducing the frequencies of almost 60 others. On Thursday, Mr Khan claimed that without a long-term financing agreement for TfL 100 bus routes would have to be abolished and the underground services cut by 10 percent.

He said this would result in a million fewer journeys a day by public transport in the capital, which would lead to “gridlock” on the roads when Londoners returned to their cars, and increased levels of toxic air.

He accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Mr Shapps of “treating Londoners with contempt” by not securing TfL’s finances. The government has already provided around £ 5 billion in rescue operations.

Sir. Khan also promised to introduce premium Heathrow subway fares and to increase payments on Oyster cards – two promises of cash collection that were first made in December last year but have not yet been adopted.

Sir. Khan responded to Mr Shapps in an angry series of tweets late at night – despite a promise of his re-election a year ago to “build bridges” to the government in his second term.

A government source told Standard on Friday: “The mayor’s ‘Project Fear’ is a bad way to build bridges. Using TfL services as a political weapon is simply not in his or London’s interest.”

Darren Caplan, executive director of the Railway Industry Association, said the expansion was the 11th “stop-gap” funding settlement between the government and TfL in just over two years.

He said: “The longer this cycle of short-termism lasts, the harder it will be to maintain and build the capital’s transport system at an affordable price and support not only London’s economy into the future but also the wider UK.”

Adam Tyndall, program director for transport at business group London First, said: “Now is the time to put politics aside and prioritize serious negotiations. However, history suggests that an extension of just 19 days will hardly be sufficient, leaving London transport fixed on life support. “

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Javed Iqbal

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