TSSA Conference calls to resist Transport for London job cuts

TfL signage in Stratford station ©Donnacha DeLong

Delegates at the annual TSSA Conference have pledged to resist job losses at Transport for London (TfL), calling for a sustainable long-term financial settlement and a campaign aimed at putting pressure on the Mayor of London, TfL leadership and the Department for Transport.

In the same motion Conference noted ‘with incredulity the government’s fixation on driverless trains’ as an undesirable development and called on the Mayor to scrap a PFI contract to build a road tunnel across the Thames at Silvertown, and other such schemes.

The full motion read:

‘That this Conference notes that the Tory Government between 2016 and 2020 had cut central grants to TfL to zero, to punish London for electing a Labour Mayor. This left London’s public transport excessively dependent on fares revenue. London entered the Covid pandemic as the only major city in Europe where public transport was expected to operate without funding from general taxation.

‘This massive dependence on fares revenue meant that the collapse in demand with the Covid lockdowns led rapidly to a crisis in TfL’s financial position, requiring bail-outs from the Government. These have taken the form of a succession of short-term settlements, far from the stable and assured financial support necessary for effective maintenance of the transport networks on which London depends.

‘Conference notes that the latest package of government funding for Transport for London, put forward at the start of June 2021, comes with a number of conditions that pose a threat to services, jobs and terms and conditions, including pensions.

‘Conference also notes with incredulity the government’s fixation on driverless trains - an undesirable development that seems as far away from becoming a reality as it always has.

‘Conference also notes that business leaders in London also back a longer term financial settlement, so that a sustainable long-term approach can be made for London’s public transport needs.

‘Conference instructs the Executive Committee to support reps and activists in delivering a public-facing campaign to resist cuts to services, jobs and terms and conditions, and to bring pressure on the Mayor of London, Department for Transport and TfL leadership to abandon these plans, and instead to agree a long term, stable funding package for London’s public transport network.

‘Conference further notes the PFI contract to build a road tunnel across the Thames at Silvertown, with an estimated cost of about £2 billion. Conference believes that this project, under which TfL will depend on toll revenue to meet the PFI payments, presents an unacceptable financial risk for TfL. The main thrust of TfL's transport policies is and must be to reduce traffic levels.

 In addition:

• experience of road schemes is that, far from reducing congestion, such ‘improvements’ lead to traffic growth;

• the pollution from traffic through the tunnel will exacerbate air quality problems around the tunnel approach routes, and

• such expansion of road capacity conflicts with the need to eliminate carbon emissions in London and the South East.

For these reasons, Conference instructs the EC to call on the Mayor to cancel this project and similar road schemes.’

Commenting, TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes said: “Conference has rightly seen through the madness of Conservative Ministers treating Transport for London and millions of Londoners with contempt.

“A fully operational and well-funded public transport system in our capital city is vital every single day as we build a secure recovery from Covid.

“Rather than over reliance on the fare box and short-term funding deals it’s vital TfL has a fair long-term settlement in line with other world capitals.

“Our union is clear – the sole focus of those in power should be working together to end the threat of job losses and loss of services at TfL. “

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