Government making Londoners pay for pandemic as TfL faces death by a thousand cuts
- Friday 17 December 2021
Unions representing London transport workers have described the government’s latest short-term funding package for Transport for London (TfL) as effectively forcing the capital’s population to pay for the pandemic.
TfL’s income collapsed at the beginning of the pandemic and has not yet recovered, as a result the organisation has had to rely on short-term funding packages from the Department for Transport (DfT) to continue to operate.
Once again the money that TfL has been offered is far below what is needed to keep London’s transport network operating. This latest funding package amounts to death by a thousand cuts.
As a result there are increasing fears that TfL will be forced to close an entire tube line, cut one in five London buses, make hundreds of workers redundant and slash the value of staff pensions.
The transport unions have warned that if there are cuts to jobs or attempts to reduce the value of TfL workers’ pensions then this is set to result in industrial action.
Unions believe that the continual short term-funding packages are preventing TfL making vital long-term investment decisions to tackle overarching challenges such as tackling climate change and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.
The hobbling of TfL by the government is also putting at risk 43,000 jobs in supply chains, located throughout the UK, who rely on TfL’s investment programme. This is a further example of how the government is punishing workers throughout the UK for the pandemic.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “London transport workers have been among the unsung heroes of the pandemic. They have kept the capital moving at the risk of their own health, tragically far too many have paid for that dedication with their lives.
“It is absolutely despicable that given their unselfish dedication they are now facing attacks on their jobs, pay and conditions. Unions are committed to repelling an assault on their members.
“The government should stop playing political games and introduce a long-term funding package to ensure that TfL can fully and properly function until the challenges posed by the pandemic finally recede.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, said: “This was an opportunity to restore public funding and use it as a badly needed stimulus for the whole economy, but what we’ve got instead is a sleazy government, stuffed with people who think the law doesn’t apply to them, strangling London as part of its great levelling down exercise.
“This deal means more attacks on heroic keyworkers and our great transport network. It will widen inequality, weaken the UK’s economy and lower standards of living for all.
“RMT will fight the attacks on our members collectively and Londoners need to resist this brazen government’s attempt to worsen our lives while they shield the parasitic wealth grabbers at the top.”
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: “This government is playing political football with the economy - and the future - of all Londoners at the time of a mass pandemic and that is unconscionable. Those key workers who have put themselves at risk for the greater good are now living with continual uncertainty and mental stress.
“Those seeking to create confidence and future employment will be deterred. It is time for a long-term settlement to give Londoners real hope and those who want to visit and work in our capital city confidence as part of a real recovery.”
No Christmas cheer
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, said: “There will be absolutely no Christmas cheer in another short-term deal for TfL.
“Yet again this Scrooge-like Tory government is content to offer brave TfL workers and the people of London the worst of all worlds when our capital city needs a properly funded, functioning and safe transport network.
“With plans afoot for major job cuts at TFL widespread industrial action is looking highly likely in the new year."
Supporting public transport
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s about much more than just keeping TfL solvent, we must avoid our public transport going into decline. We need both emergency funding and commitment to a long-term sustainable settlement that protects jobs and services, and puts us on a path to net zero transport emissions.
“This funding deal doesn’t deliver enough to do that. That’s not just bad for London, it’s bad for Britain too. It makes it harder for the wider UK economy to build back stronger, and it puts jobs at risk in transport supply chains throughout the UK.”
No long-term planning
International Transport Workers’ Federation general secretary Stephen Cotton said: “Continual short term-funding packages are preventing TfL making vital long-term investment decisions to tackle the two overarching challenges that our society will face over the coming years, the economic recovery out of the pandemic and avoiding climate catastrophe.
“It’s not only short-sighted, its economically and environmentally reckless. We don’t need cuts, we need urgent long-term investment to ensure the future of London’s public transport.”
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries ONLY please contact
Unite: Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067 or email: [email protected]
RMT: Geoff Martin, Press Officer [email protected], Jonathan White, National Policy Officer, 02075298287
ASLEF: Keith Richmond Media & Communications, [email protected], 07977 498794
TSSA: Douglas Beattie, TSSA press officer [email protected] 07730 574087
TUC: [email protected] 020 7467 1248
ITF: James Bartholomeusz, [email protected] , 07715074293