Video: Tube funding update

RMT Regional Organiser John Leach updates members on the funding agreement reached between London mayor Sadiq Khan and thr government following s meeting he attended this morning with the assistant mayor and TfL commissioner.

Video transcript:

Hello my name is John Leach and I'm the RMT's regional organizer for the London Transport Region of the union that represents all members on London Underground, Transport for London, Docklands, the cable car, the river and all of the companies that serve and support our colleagues who work in those industries.

Now recently, obviously, we've all been hearing in the news about the situation with the funding of TfL and the fact that the Transport for London commissioner on behalf of the mayor of London has been in negotiations to secure a deal to get money to keep tfl running during the pandemic. This morning I was called to a meeting as your RO with the deputy mayor of London and the commissioner himself along with their officials to discuss the outcome of the deal that they made with the government.

What they've told us is that the deal is worth about 1.8 billion pounds to keep them going through to march 31st of next year.

As you would expect us as union representatives to do this morning we sought and were able to obtain certain guarantees and assurances from the commissioner himself on your behalf. It's worth remembering a bit about the background to all of this; Transport for London's finances were restructured in the years before the pandemic to such an extent that it was the only transportation system in the world which ran without grant. It basically operated and relied upon the fares that it collected as revenue and also any investments that it had and this meant that when the ridership dropped from somewhere around the region of four million people a day on the tube down to approximately 80 000 at some stages that there was a catastrophic impact on their finances.

One of the assurances that I saw on behalf of all of our members this morning was that there will be no attack on people's jobs, pensions, terms conditions of employment and general well-being. The commissioner was able to say, and i'm going to look at my notebook and read now what he exactly said to me was: "there'll be no changes to jobs, pay, conditions and benefits or breaking of contracts with suppliers as part of this first part of this deal." Now that what he meant by that is for the first six months, and they have indicated that beyond the six months there will be a debate around what they're calling the long-term plan which they need to do some work towards, January next year 2021, so we can actually take stock that at the moment today there is no proposal to attack any jobs, terms, conditions of employment.

The commissioner this morning told us that in the long term they have a plan and they're preparing their plans for 2021 to achieve further efficiencies to put the company on a proper financial footing. This gives me grave concerns because essentially what they're talking about is saving money in the medium and long term. That's where our job as a union is going to be really important, we're going to need to be prepared in advance for any attack on our members well-being. This is a multi-layered approach for us where we're going to have to on the one hand campaign for proper funding of the tube, you can't just rely on balancing the budget by making cuts, no cuts are acceptable as far as we're concerned, and at the same time we're gonna also have to give our members the confidence they can stand up and fight for what's right.

It's important to say our members have been absolute heroes right across TfL whatever sector they work in during the pandemic. It would be an absolute disgrace that their jobs and their terms and conditions of employment, their pensions, all of that, was now put in jeopardy to pay for the financial mismanagement of Transport for London as a consequence and that's why we'll be campaigning for better funding for a a better investment in the tube and also for ourselves as workers if we need to to resist these cuts.

That would inevitably involve if necessary taking industrial action, strike action, and that like it's essential that we don't only look down one way to defeat these attacks when they come our way but many different ways.

At the same time my message to RMT members right across TfL today, wherever you work, is that be assured that this union - your union - ourselves all together, will be able to defend what's right here and that's having a decent and proper job in Transport for London.  A lot of TfL workers have given their entire working lives, and even those who have only here a little while too, to this job and there's no way they are now going to be made scapegoats and have their jobs put up as the price to be paid for Covid.

We have the confidence and we have the determination to resist this and to fight it and you know what we can do it and we will.  I've been around few years now in TfL and I've seen this union rise to the occasion many times before and this time we will too.

So take care out there we've got the new lockdown coming our way and there'll be further meetings and briefings about that with TfL. Together we are strong and in unity we will prevail.

Thank you.