Unions organising across Transport for London and London Underground will hold a joint online rally on 15 July, to launch a campaign for increased funding for TfL and against cuts. At the time of going to press, RMT, Aslef, and Unite were backing the rally, with TSSA also expected to come on board. Exact details, including the time, had yet to be confirmed.
Since the Tories abolished the central government subsidy to TfL, it has been almost wholly reliant on funding from fares and commercial revenue streams, meaning it was plunged into a profound financial crisis when passenger levels dropped by over 90% during the pandemic. A government bailout to see TfL through to October was accompanied by significant strings, including agreeing to a full audit of all TfL finances, and having government officials sit on the TfL board.
The government had now appointed KPMG to conduct that audit, which will almost inevitably recommend swingeing cuts to TfL’s already diminished budget. A political and industrial campaign to resist those attacks, and to propose alternative workers’ and passengers’ plans for the future funding and governance of public transport in London, is vital.
Passenger levels on the Tube hit 15% of the same time last year in the week commencing 22 June, slightly over the 13% level at which TfL calculated it can comfortably maintain 2m distancing amongst passengers. RMT is promoting a charter of workplace demands to ensure additional safety measures implemented to protect staff during the pandemic are retained and extended.
Meanwhile, RMT is balloting its members on the Heathrow Express service, which shuttles passengers between the airport and Paddington station in central London, over a plan to cut more than 100 jobs in the Mobile Sales Advisor and Customer Concierge grades.
Heathrow Express plans to manage the cuts via a reorganisation, which will involve some workers taking a cut in hours. A union statement said: “RMT is appalled that under the cover of the Covid-19 crisis, which has seen Heathrow Express workers furloughed, management have chosen to put a gun to our members’ heads demanding they accept a total reorganisation, including moving half the workforce on to part-time contracts, or face unemployment.”