Kiley: a verdict on Livingstone's appointments policy

Former London Underground tsar Bob Kiley has told the press "I do very little work for my £737,000".

Kiley was appointed as boss of London Underground by Ken Livingstone soon after Livingstone won election as an ostensibly left-wing candidate. After retiring early from the top job, he is now paid £737,000 a year to "work" part-time as a "consultant".

Kiley also revealed that he is an alcoholic. His illness is his own affair. That Livingstone appointed him to a non-job at a huge salary is the labour movement's affair.

This is what we said about the Kiley appointment in our pamphlet Tunnel Vision:

Ken Livingstone's highest profile appointment was Bob Kiley. Kiley had been Chief Executive of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). As the Daily Telegraph reported, "He is credited with a transformation of the New York Subway after winning a political struggle to impose modern management methods that outraged the transport unions."

Workers in many industries know from bitter experience that "modern management methods" usually means attacks on workers and our unions. And so it had been on the New York Subway. Kiley's regime had brought in a bullying management team, increased the pace of work, tried to impose a two-tier pay structure, imposed lower pay for new starters, cut bonuses for night and weekend working, cut the number of (hourly-paid) workers by 10%, increased the number of disciplinaries, slashed revenue subsidies and increased fares, and brought in private companies to do maintenance work. Kiley had introduced 'concession bargaining', meaning that the unions gave up working conditions as part of each year's pay round.

Earlier in his career, in the 1960s, Kiley had worked for the CIA, including a spell as director of operations for its 'clandestine service unit'. According to the BBC, he "travelled the world in the 1960s fighting Communism and spying on radical students".

Ken's gift to Bob Kiley was not just a new job, but a salary of £250,000, with the chance to double this in 'performance-related' bonuses, plus rent-free use of a £2.1m Georgian house in Belgravia, bought for him by TfL.

'Red' Ken Livingstone had created a new fat cat - one of the highest-paid transport chiefs in Europe, and amongst the best-paid public employees in Britain. Livingstone claimed that to get a world-class London Underground, he needed to pay world-class salaries, but we have yet to see the same principle apply to pay negotiations for Tube workers.

On Ken Livingstone's general approach to the various posts within his gift once elected mayor, we wrote:

Rather than organise elections so that passengers and workers could choose our own representatives, Livingstone hand-picked the Board.

There were a few trade union big names, although union members did not get the chance to vote for who should represent us. There were also representatives of business, and Ken even found jobs for defeated Mayoral opponents Steve Norris and Susan Kramer.

He no doubt hoped to appear generous and pluralist. But in reality, Livingstone was overturning the wishes of the London electorate, who had explicitly voted that we did not want Tories or LibDems running London's transport.

Livingstone won the Mayor election because of popular opposition to Tube privatisation and New Labour's control freakery. Against this, his alternative should have been labour movement democracy and principled socialist politics. Instead, he set up alliances with bosses and their political servants, and enacted control freakery of his own.


Keep the issues clear

Kiley is a sponging fat-cat, draining public money for doing nothing. And Livingstone is a disgrace for letting him do it while also letting Tube cleaners languish on poverty wages.

We have known that Kiley is a sponging fat cat for years. The only news this week is his admission that (a) he accepts that he does little for his money and (b) he is an alcoholic. The former is a scandal that the labour movement must force Livingstone to stop; the latter is his own personal business and of no interest to socialists.