TSSA – the biggest union for Transport for London staff – has reacted with “concern and anger” to the latest Government funding deal which forces TfL to make hundreds of millions of pounds of new cuts over the next 19 months. The union has said any changes to pensions would lead to “industrial unrest”.
The terms of the deal, which was announced late yesterday (Tuesday), include an attack on staff pensions and real terms pay cuts for staff, many of whom have seen the value of their salaries cut by 20% over the last seven years. Funding for capital projects is extremely limited, with Government exerting strict control over which projects - such as the Silvertown Tunnel - must go ahead.
Over 600 customer service roles are under threat and cuts to bus services seem inevitable as a result of the funding settlement, which leaves a £230m shortfall over the period to March 2024. There are also concerns about fares increases at ‘unprecedented levels’ hitting passengers during a cost-of-living crisis and in turn impacting travel habits and emissions despite the desperate need to tackle the climate crisis.
Andy Byford, TfL Commissioner, has admitted that this is not the deal that TfL wanted, but said that it was this deal or no deal, with TfL facing down the barrel of bankruptcy and direct government control. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has fought back against the worst and deepest cuts that government tried to impose, but the settlement ultimately means a less-well funded transport system for London and all the businesses which rely on it. TSSA believes TfL is not clear of the “managed decline” scenario which was the worst of three possible outcomes scoped in their Long Term Capital Funding Plan earlier this year.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA 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.
“Let’s be clear, 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.”