GLA members attack Khan in wake of LU ‘zero strikes’ failure
Members of the Greater London Authority (GLA) have criticised the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan for his failure to avert yesterday’s London Underground (LU) strike, accusing him of backing down on his pre-election pledge to bring ‘zero strikes’ during his term as mayor.
The strike, held by RMT and TSSA members in protest at staff cuts and ticket office closures at LU stations, hit commuters hard yesterday, with Khan admitting that the strike was a “huge inconvenience” to commuters, tourist, and TfL staff.
Now opposition members have warned that Khan’s tight TfL budget and other election pledges, such as a fare freeze across TfL’s services, may lead to further industrial action in the future.
“Sadiq Khan’s ‘zero strikes’ election pledge has always been considered laughable, but the disruption caused by these upcoming strikes will be no joke. His recklessly tight budget will most likely lead to many more strikes over his term,” said Cllr Keith Prince, a Conservative councillor on Redbridge council and London Assembly member.
“How he thought he could keep his ‘zero strikes’ promise while cutting the TfL budget to shreds with his partial fares freeze is beyond me.”
The dispute with station staff leading to the strike initially began in 2014 under the former London mayor Boris Johnson, who proposed closing up to 268 ticket offices as part of his Fit for the Future plan.
An independent review into the closures by London’s travel watchdog London TravelWatch last December rejected the idea of reopening the offices provided that TfL agreed to improve staff visibility, leading Khan to call the strikes ‘pointless’.
Cllr Gareth Bacon, leader of the Conservative GLA group, said that Khan’s promise of zero strikes “both insulted the intelligence of Londoners and showed a woeful lack of understanding of the capital's transport issues”.
“For a long time I have called for a move to binding pendulum arbitration, allowing a judge to rule on industrial disputes like this,” Cllr Bacon said. “The mayor would do well to consider sensible options such as this rather than making weak gestures that seriously undermine the public's confidence in his ability to do his job.”
While Khan’s manifesto when running for mayor committed him to cutting the total number of days spent on strike, Khan said on the campaign trail that he would “make sure there are zero days of strikes”, with City Hall now calling his comments an ‘aspiration’.
“There is a good deal sitting on the table that will ensure station safety and staffing levels across the Tube network. I am willing to carry on negotiations,” Khan said before the strike last Sunday.
A City Hall spokesperson maintained that Khan retained his ambition of zero strikes with the mayor seeing every single strike as a sign of failure.
(Image c. Yui Mok, PA Wire)
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