London transport deal agreed by Sadiq Khan angers RMT union with new Tube strike threat

Above: Mick Lynch tells Carolyn Sim why the RMT won't accept the deal done between the Government and Sadiq Khan

Millions of Londoners are facing the prospect of more strikes after a funding deal designed to protect the capital's transport network angered unions.

The RMT union said the long-term funding arrangement by the Government and TfL on Tuesday will attack Tube workers’ pay and pensions.

The union said driverless Tube trains were included in reforms called for by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps as part of the deal.

The RMT union, along with other transport unions, will be holding a Save London Transport rally on Wednesday night with special guest US senator Bernie Sanders.

'Deal negotiated in secret'

"This deal negotiated in secret by TfL and Government ministers will likely see our members pensions attacked and further pay restraint in the future, coupled with driverless trains," said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.

"Grant Shapps’ attack on Tube workers would be unacceptable at any time but in an escalating, cost-of-living crisis it is shameful and will be resisted through further strike action.

"The rally tonight will send a message that RMT and other transport unions will not tolerate attacks on workers’ pay and conditions or cuts to public services," Mr Lynch added.

On Tuesday the Department for Transport confirmed it struck a deal with Transport for London to help the service cope with potential lost revenue caused by uncertainty over post-pandemic demand.

TfL expects to receive around £1.2 billion of funding from the Government until the end of March 2024 to help should passenger numbers not recover at the rate budgeted for.

But London mayor Sadiq Khan said a £740 million funding gap remains in TfL’s budget over the next 20 months, with fare increases and service cuts under consideration alongside efficiency savings.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "For over two years now, we’ve time and again shown our unwavering commitment to London and the transport network it depends on, but we have to be fair to taxpayers across the entire country.

"This deal more than delivers for Londoners and even matches the mayor’s own pre-pandemic spending plans but for this to work, the mayor must follow through on his promises to get TfL back on a steady financial footing, stop relying on Government bailouts and take responsibility for his actions.

"Now is the time to put politics to one side and get on with the job – Londoners depend on it."

'Treated with disdain'

Manuel Cortes, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association’s general secretary, said: “Our members at TfL are understandably concerned and angry at this funding settlement.

“They’ve been treated with disdain by this Conservative government despite their heroic efforts in keeping London’s transport moving and years of pay restraint.

“Any attacks on their pensions will lead to industrial unrest.

“TfL’s precarious financial situation is a direct result of a dodgy deal made by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London which cut government funding to TfL by £700 million per year.

“This leaves London as the only major city in the world that does not receive public funding to cover running costs.

“Covid exacerbated this situation.

“Ultimately, London and Londoners are being punished for voting Labour and it will be they who pay the price, with cuts to services and investment and higher fares.

“Already they have been warned of ‘unprecedented’ increases next year, which will impact most upon the poorest in the capital.”

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