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  • Finn Brennan

The election of a new Mayor last May created the opportunity to reset industrial relations on London

ASLEF picket line on the Northern line

In contrast to the hostile attitude of his predecessor, Sadiq Khan and his team are supportive of trade unions and have repeatedly said that they want to improve industrial relations. But somehow senior management at TfL don’t seem to have got the memo!

Once again passengers on the Central line will face disruption from tonight in a dispute that LU seem to have no interest in solving. For weeks, they didn’t even bother to meet with us; when we offered to explore alternatives to forced displacement that would incur no extra cost to the company, they dismissed it out of hand.

This isn’t just a matter of management not sticking to agreements, (though we don’t believe they have). No reasonable employer would force staff to move location, adding hours to their travelling time without exploring other alternatives. And when staff show just how upset they are by a large strike vote, you would expect any reasonable employer to say “clearly there is a problem here, we need to find a way to fix it” Instead, LU directors seem to shrug their shoulders and think “let them go on strike if they want to!”

It’s no way to run a railway.

Our members don’t want to have to go on strike. It costs them money and means they are once again subjected to the anger of the press and some of the public. They want problems at work to be resolved. But instead London Underground seem to lurch from dispute to dispute careless of the effect this has on its passengers or the morale of its staff.

Instead of seeking opportunities to improve relations, some senior managers seem to want to pick unnecessary fights. Meetings of the Company Council, the highest level of the machinery of negotiation between unions and the company, where access to full time roles for Night Tube drivers could have been discussed before we went into dispute were cancelled or postponed. This year’s first full meeting of the Trains Council, where issues that effect drivers across the network are discussed has also been cancelled. Is it really surprising that our members feel the only time management are prepared to engage is when they ballot for strike action?

It is in no one’s interest to have dispute after dispute. It is certainly not what our members or the travelling public want. Its long past time that someone in TfL realised that their culture of confrontation is simply making problems worse. Nice phrases about working cooperatively are easy; But the will and the action to deliver it are still missing.

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