Senior ASLEF officials met management today for a briefing on the funding package announced by the Department of Transport.
Instead of the long term funding needed, we have another short term settlement that will do nothing to protect the long term future of public transport in London. This is both short sighted and stupid.
The funding package only runs until December and during that time TfL has to find another £900 millions in cuts or "new income". They also need to increase revenue by between £500 million and £1bn each year or make extra cuts from April 2023. This is all on top of the already planned cuts of £730 million by April 2023.
It is clear that the intention is to make these savings by attacking staff wages, pensions, working conditions and job security.
Management will be working out how to make these savings over the next weeks and a new proposed budget will be set out in July. But some items are already set out in the agreement;
The Government are insisting that "TfL will carry out a review of their pension scheme and reform options with the explicit aim of moving TfL’s Pension Fund into a financially sustainable position" with a report to be delivered this year.
Service levels across the network are to be reviewed.
An outline business case for driverless operation on the Waterloo and City line, with drivers replaced by train attendants is to be produced by December. A "strategic business case" for driveless operation on the Piccadilly line has to be produced at the same time.
TfL must "freeze pay in line with the public sector pay pause". (The current 4 year deal on London Underground will be honoured, but pay for TfL employees will be frozen)
Throughout the pandemic, workers on TfL turned up for duty every day. They risked their own safety, and that of their families, so that essential services could continue to operate in our capital city. We knew that the words of praise from government ministers were nothing but hypocritical cant. Their real attitude has been shown by this decision to attack the pensions, job security, and working conditions of those they called heroes just months ago.
When we met management today, ASLEF were very explicit that if they go through with these attacks, the outcome will be long and bitter industrial disputes. Our members will never accept these attacks without a fight.
Ministers seem to believe that reduced passenger numbers and changes to commuting patterns meant that Underground staff will be less able to protect themselves. They are in for an unpleasant surprise. London's economic recovery depends on high quality reliable public transport. In deciding to pick a fight with the workers who deliver it, the government have made a serious mistake.
ASLEF have an existing mandate for industrial action to protect our agreements. We will not hesitate to use it as and when needed.
A full report will be given at our weekly reps meeting and at branch meetings. All members are encouraged to attend their branch meetings and take part in the discussions about how we will respond to the huge threats we face.
ASLEF District Organiser.