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RMT threatens strike over government’s ‘austerity’ TfL deal

MORE details have emerged of the terms of the Government’s £1.9 billion rescue deal for Transport for London. The RMT has been angered by the implications, and is threatening industrial action.

The Department for Transport yielded just before the Mayior of London Sadiq Khan would have started to withdraw services, and agreed a grant of just over £1 billion plus a loan of £505 million. The total support could rise to £1.9 billion of this proves necessary later in the year.

In return, the DfT will take part in the management of Transport for London, saying: ‘To put TfL on a sustainable footing for the longer term and help safeguard its future, the mayor has agreed that the government will carry out an immediate and broad-ranging review of the organisation’s future financial position and structure, including the potential for efficiencies. Two special representatives will represent the government on TfL’s board, its finance committee and its programmes and investment committee, in order to ensure best value for money for the taxpayer.’

Fares will also rise next year by RPI + 1 per cent, after the four-year freeze introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan following his election.

The Mayor has admitted that the deal was not in line with his wishes. He said: ‘I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners – this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running.

‘In the last few years, London has been the only major city in western Europe that hasn’t received direct Government funding to run day to day transport services since it was cut by the last Government. This means we rely very heavily on passenger fares to pay for the services we run. Fares income has fallen by 90 per cent in the last two months because Londoners have done the right thing and stayed at home – so there simply isn’t enough money coming in to pay for our services.’

Meanwhile, the RMT has threatened to stage strikes. General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘London transport workers have been vital to fighting Covid-19 and any attacks on their pay, jobs and conditions arising from this imposed settlement will be a complete betrayal.

‘We will be seeking an urgent meeting with both the Mayor and secretary of state for transport to make clear London transport workers will not pay the cost of the crisis.

‘It looks like Boris Johnson is back in charge of transport in London. We will not accept one penny of austerity cuts imposed by Whitehall or passed on by City Hall as part of this funding package and our resistance will include strike action if necessary.

‘We are  also deeply concerned that this is a sign of wider austerity conditions to be imposed on the transport industry across the UK.’

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