TfL boss accuses unions of ‘undermining’ Government bailout talks with strike threat

·4-min read
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch  (PA Wire)
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (PA Wire)

TfL has accused unions of attempting to “undermine” its bailout negotiations with the Government with further threats of strike action.

In a letter to the RMT’s Mick Lynch, seen by the Evening Standard on Wednesday, the transport authority’s director of people Fiona Brunskill said walk outs could have “dire consequences”.

Tube staff, along with London Overground workers, are set to strike on August 19 in a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs. It follows industrial action in June and July which ground the capital to a halt and put further strain on TfL’s finances.

UK Train & Tube Strike | June 2022

Passengers arrive at Kings Cross Station, London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Passengers arrive at Kings Cross Station, London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Commuters on the Central Line at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
Commuters on the Central Line at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union along with London Underground workers in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions (PA)
Traffic on the A1203 near Kings Cross in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. (PA)
Traffic on the A1203 near Kings Cross in London, as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. (PA)
People walk on London Bridge, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
People walk on London Bridge, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London (PA)
Passengers wait for Stratford station to open in London (PA)
Commuters arrive at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
Commuters arrive at Stratford Station (Getty Images)
People walk on London Bridge in view of The Shard, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
People walk on London Bridge in view of The Shard, the day after a national rail strike, during six days of travel disruption (REUTERS)
Passengers await their trains to be announced, at a quiet Euston station, in Londo (AP)
Passengers await their trains to be announced, at a quiet Euston station, in Londo (AP)
A group of passengers board a number 87 double-decker bus to Aldwych at a stop outside Clapham Junction station (PA)
A group of passengers board a number 87 double-decker bus to Aldwych at a stop outside Clapham Junction station (PA)
(Supplied)
(Supplied)

In her letter, Ms Brunskill said: “We are continuing to do absolutely everything we can to achieve the best long-term funding deal possible for TfL, our customers and our people.

“I need to be really clear with you, that taking further industrial action at this time will do nothing but undermine our negotiations with Government and simply increase the scale of the challenge that we need to meet.

“I need not spell out the dire consequences for TfL and London Underground if we are unable to secure continued funding.”

She added: The calling of further industrial action risks further damage to our customers’ confidence in TfL, and London Underground whilst also increasing the risks to our financial recovery.

“Such damage will inevitably lead to further financial risk to TfL and seriously jeopardise our ability to maintain services.”

TfL was given until Wednesday lunchtime to accept or reject a multi-billion-pound Government funding deal to secure its future.

However, by the afternoon it was still in negotiations with the Department of Transport over the terms of the bailout.

Taxpayers have plunged more than £5 billion into TfL to keep services on track during the pandemic.

Fare revenue has failed to returned to pre-Covid levels meaning City Hall has needed help from central Government to keep Tubes and buses running.

The RMT said TfL’s refusal to share details of the government’s “final” draft funding proposal was a major reason behind the strikes.

It has asked TfL to guarantee there will be no changes to pensions and contract terms and conditions or face further walk out.

Ms Brunskill hit back saying that due to “the sensitivity” of discussions with Government “we are not able to share the details yet”.

“You are asking for are assurances that no organisation could ever meaningfully provide, even without the challenges that TfL are trying to address, because no-one can be sure what the future may hold,” she said.

She added that “despite the present challenging financial situation” pay agreements had been honoured and London Underground staff received an 8.4 per cent pay increase .

RMT General Secretary Mr Lynch said: "This latest letter from TfL does not address our central demands which is that there should be no job losses, no detrimental changes to pensions and no imposition of new working conditions.

"TfL is having £2billion cut from its budget and they have been asked to find savings.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) Commissioner Andy Byford (REUTERS)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) Commissioner Andy Byford (REUTERS)

"The Mayor of London must focus his attention on the Tory administration who is cutting the funding to TfL, not take it out on tube staff who keep the capital moving.

"We are prepared to work with TfL, but our members will not be sacrificial lambs on the altar of austerity.”

Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner said: “Every other major transport system around the world receives central Government funding, and London needs the same if it is to have a transport network that can continue to support homes, jobs, opportunities and economic growth.

“The importance of a properly funded transport network, which can offer a viable alternative to car use and can play its part in addressing the climate emergency, has again been highlighted in recent weeks.

“We have previously set out to Government that we would need £927million for the remainder of this year, as well as a long-term capital funding deal to support London’s economic recovery.

“We are in active discussion with the Government to ensure that the draft funding proposal that they have made is fair and deliverable and can prevent the managed decline of the capital’s transport network. We hope these discussions can be concluded successfully soon.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting