When the Trade Unions met London Underground management last week, we were told that they intend to review all local and framework agreements and the Attendance At Work policy as part of a program to make "permanent changes to the way we work".
This morning we were given more details on plans to review the pension fund. This is a condition of the funding settlement agreed with the Government.
We were told that the review will be led by Brenden Barber, a former General Secretary of the TUC who has also served as chair of ACAS and as member of the TfL board. While I don't doubt his integrity or ability, the issue of course is the remit he has been given.
You can read the full terms of reference here, but however it is dressed up, the aim of the review is to make huge cuts in the amount of money TfL spends on providing pensions to staff. That would inevitably mean reducing the income staff will get when they retire and increasing the amount they pay in now. Depending on the options recommended by the review, staff could lose tens of thousands of pounds from the pension they expect to receive.
Those worst affected would be junior staff who have many years until retirement as benefits already accumulated are protected, but every single employee can expect to be hit financially. You are being made to pay for the revenue that TfL has lost during the pandemic and the failure of the government to provide fair long term funding.
So far, there are no concrete plans or proposals on the table on pensions or on all the other agreements that management plan to "review". ASLEF members have twice already returned large mandates for action if management try to force through changes without agreement. We will shortly be arranging to renew that mandate, so that we are able to take action when we need too.
Over the next weeks and months we will keep reporting to reps and members. We will stay focused on the issues that have a real impact on our members, not get drawn into unnecessary fights where you lose money before the real battle starts.
The effects of the pandemic on passenger numbers and the strings that the Government has attached to the funding settlement means that we are facing the biggest challenge we have had for decades. ASLEF will always be prepared to negotiate, but will never accept being bullied.
At stake are your working agreements, your job and your pension. We need every member to be actively involved with your local branch and to encourage non members to join ASLEF so that we have a strong and effective union in every area to deal with the fights ahead.
The challenge is a big one. Our union is determined to meet it.
ASLEF District Organiser.