WHEN: 11:00 Wednesday 1 December 2021
WHERE: Old Palace Yard (opposite parliament) SW1P 3JY
London’s transport workers will descend on parliament on Wednesday 1 December at a joint transport union rally to warn that attacks on staff pensions and conditions will light the blue touch paper for coordinated capital-wide strikes early in 2022.
The strike threat comes as Transport for London (TfL) and Boris Johnson’s department for transport (DfT) battle it out over a fourth TfL funding deal amid fears that bus and underground services could be slashed without urgent government investment to plug a £1.9bn funding gap, caused by the decimation of passenger numbers during the pandemic and TfL’s over-reliance for funding from fares.
The current TfL emergency funding deal expires on 11 December.
Unite the union is calling for long term, full funding for TfL with the central government funding subsidy restored as a means to repair the funding gap, and for workers’ pensions and conditions to be removed from funding negotiations between TfL and the DfT.
Unite is London’s largest transport union, representing, 2,000 workers directly employed by TfL and London Underground, as well as 22,000 London bus workers. The union says that any effort to make these workers cover the bailout shortfall with cuts to their pensions and pay will lead to strike ballots in the New Year.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “Boris Johnson’s government is risking the biggest industrial unrest in TfL’s history over his funding squeeze and attack on staff pensions and conditions.
“TfL has found itself in an unprecedented financial crisis but it has a duty to come up with a stable alternative funding model, not to reach for the tired approach of hitting workers in their wallets while the boardrooms get off scot-free.
“Under no circumstances will we tolerate our members being made to pay the price of the pandemic with cuts to their jobs, pay and conditions.
Unite London and Eastern regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh said: “The DfT’s last bailout fell well short of what was needed, forcing a pension review and pay freeze on the workforce.
“The government must come to the table now with a better funding solution because unless it does, it will be to blame for the inevitable decay in and disruption to our world-class transit system.
“There are alternatives that should be considered that do not mean attacking the very workers who put their lives on the line to keep the capital moving during this pandemic. London’s four transport unions are united when we say that our members’ terms and conditions are not on the table. Our members must not be made to pay for this crisis.”
Compared to other global cities like Paris and New York, TfL receives far less direct government funding: TfL has to raise 72 per cent of its income from fares, whereas it is only 48 per cent in New York.