Appeal to London Mayor on Elizabeth Line strike

A group of TSSA Elizabeth Line pickets in orang hi vis vests and yellow armbands at Romford Rail Operating Centre. A huge red TSSA flag flies above them

Transport union TSSA has written to Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, appealing to him to intervene in the dispute on the Elizabeth line which has resulted in crippling strike action today.

TSSA members working for Rail for London Infrastructure (RfLi) are taking strike action about pay and proposed changes to pensions. This is the first strike action on Britain’s newest rail line.

Elizabeth Line staff employed by RfLi are paid up to £30,000 less than colleagues with equivalent roles elsewhere on the TfL network, even on the same line. They’ve also been offered lower pay increases than other workers on the network.

In the letter to London’s Mayor – who also holds the position of Chair of the Transport for London Board – TSSA calls on him to use his considerable influence to encourage, or if necessary force, the employer to negotiate over the key issues in the dispute.

Frank Ward, TSSA Interim General Secretary, said: “Despite months of trying to get negotiations with the company over pay there has been no movement. This strike action is the only thing so far which has led to anything close to negotiations.

“We’re calling on Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London and Chair of the TfL Board to use his influence to encourage negotiations which can resolve this dispute. Elizabeth Line staff deserve nothing less.”

The letter is reproduced in full below.

Dear Sadiq, 

I’m writing to ask for your support for TSSA Elizabeth Line workers. 

TSSA members working for Rail for London Infrastructure (RfLi) are taking strike action about pay and proposed changes to pensions. Their action means that no services run on the central section of the Elizabeth Line today. They don’t want to be taking strike action, but the reality is that this action is the only thing that has brought TfL and RfLi management to the table to talk seriously about pay and pay parity, despite months of brewing industrial unrest and attempts on our part to start talks. 

 TSSA gave notice of our intention to ballot RfLi in November, and confirmed the Yes vote (in which members voted 90% in favour of strike action on an 80% turnout) in December, yet RfLi and TfL management did not contact us until last Friday, 6 January to set up talks. Talks are welcome, and it is the first time that we have had serious talks over the last year. Some progress was made earlier this week, but TfL and RfLi still refuse to negotiate with us about fair pay and pay parity for our members, who are paid significantly less than staff doing equivalent roles across the TfL network, including MTR staff on the Elizabeth line.  

TSSA members are highly and multi-skilled safety-critical workers on the world's first entirely digital railway. They work nights, weekends and public holidays. 

Despite being essential workers, and their specialised and skilled roles, our members are paid far less than colleagues in equivalent roles across the TfL network, including MTR staff working on the Elizabeth Line. In some grades the differential is up to £30,000. As a result, staff recruitment and retention has become a great problem and existing staff are under constant pressure.

 RFLI staff have been offered a 4% rise for 2022, whereas MTR staff got an 8.2% increase (on already higher salaries), and DLR staff received a 9.25% increase. This is fundamentally about fair and equal pay. 

As you know, RFLi is a subsidiary of Transport for London, wholly owned by TfL but operated at arm’s length. Despite this, TfL is seeking to impose a TfL pay deal on RfLi operational grades. As Chair of the TfL Board, we ask you to intervene to encourage – or if necessary, to force – RFLi and TfL to commit to negotiating a fair pay deal for staff which addresses pay inequalities.

It cannot be right that workers doing equivalent jobs are paid so differently across the TfL network. Nor that those paid so much less are then offered lower pay increases and face cuts to their pensions. 

Please use your considerable influence to intervene on behalf of these transport workers so that we can find a resolution to this dispute. Unless the position on pay improves, we will see more strike action and ongoing action short of strike on the Elizabeth Line. 

Yours sincerely,

Frank Ward

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