London Underground's "final offer" is just not good enough
Yesterday, Thursday October 10th, ASLEF and the other London Underground trade unions met management at ACAS for the thirteenth time to discuss our 2019 pay and conditions claim.
The company have made a new offer, which they say is their “full and final” position. Although we see this offer as a step in the right direction, it is not one that we can accept for reasons that I have set out below.
The key points of the offer are;
A four-year settlement for all grades of;
Year 1: (from April 2019) A pay rise of RPI plus 0.2 % which equals 2.7%
Year 2: A pay rise of 1.4% and an additional three rest days per year. Three R/D’s is equivalent to a 30-minute reduction in the working week.
Year 3; A pay rise of RPI plus 0.2 %
Year 4; A pay rise of 1.4% and a further three rest days per year. equivalent to an additional 30-minute reduction in the working week.
While this is still a long way from our aspiration of a 32-hour week; it marks the first time in almost 25 years that London Underground have been prepared even to talk about a shorter working week. We also think it makes sense to have a longer-term deal so that pay increases are guaranteed year after year.
But as we explained to the company yesterday, there are two major problems with this offer that mean we could not consider supporting it. Firstly, the pay rise in years 2 and 4 is not linked to the RPI rate of inflation. RPI, the Retail Price Index, is the base measure used in our pay claims and also for increases in rail fares, student loan repayments and government bonds. It tends to be higher than the Government’s preferred inflation measure, the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
In broad terms, a pay rise of RPI means that your pay rises with inflation, the increase in prices across the economy. If inflation is 5%, you get a pay rise of 5%. But if pay is not linked to RPI, then you can see a fall in your real income. If RPI inflation next year was 5% and your pay rise was 1.4%, then your real income and living standards would fall. That is why ASLEF are insisting on a link to RPI.
The other big problem is that this offer does nothing to address the pay gap between London Underground drivers and those on Crossrail and London Overground. ASLEF wants to see everyone get a fair pay rise; but our claim is specific that drivers should receive an additional increase, above the cost of living rise to close this gap.
Management’s response so far has been to refuse to deal with this on the basis that LU drivers are less “flexible” than those on other companies.Of course, there are different working agreements on each company but that can not justify Underground drivers falling further and further behind each year. London Underground claims to pay above market rates to its staff. That is clearly not the case for train drivers, and it needs to be addressed.
There are also outstanding issues on Boxing Day payments and travel benefits that must be resolved before any settlement.
We are now arranging a reps meeting to discuss our next steps. But London Underground have to understand that they must be prepared to deal with these problems so a fair settlement can be reached.
Your Executive Committee member, Terry Wilkinson and I and Trains Council reps will be reporting to branch meetings to hear members views and answer questions.
ASLEF District Organiser.