RMT gears up for industrial and political battle in London

Head Office Circular No. NP/262/20

To all London Underground branches and members and all TfL members:

23 October 2020

Dear colleagues,

RMT gears up for industrial and political battle in London

I’m writing to you to set out how your union is responding to the Government’s attempt to use the crisis in TfL’s finances to launch an attack on the livelihoods of ordinary Londoners, including threats to attacks jobs and pensions on the capital’s transport network.

It is appalling that this government is playing politics with people’s lives during a pandemic. Its punitive package of conditions attached to the offer of a further 6 months’ funding is designed to impose a new round of austerity on London’s hard-pressed workers, families and small businesses. Once again, ordinary people are being sized up to pay for a crisis that was not of their making.

The union is directly lobbying the government on this issue to say that London Transport Workers will not pay the price of the Coronavirus Crisis. The union’s concerns have also been raised with the Mayor and on the Transport for London Board and with MPs. In my public statements in the press I have been crystal clear with the government, and with TfL. We will fight any attack on jobs and conditions, whether it is imposed by the government or signed up to by the Mayor. We will launch a coordinated industrial and political campaign against any such moves.

We will fight these attacks with industrial action where necessary and we will seek to build the broadest possible coalition of groups representing Londoners who work on and who depend on our transport system, because this is an attack on all of us.

Our case is simple.
· TfL’s finances have been wrecked because of a failed funding model that left London’s transport network completely dependent on passenger fares, unlike those of most global cities. Under this funding model, championed by the Tories, who took away TfL’s last operating grant in 2015, ever more money has been used to finance TfL’s growing debt while workers have been overstretched.

· Londoners need our public transport system as much as ever to help tackle social inequality, decarbonise our economy and improve the city’s air quality. Providing a clean, safe and orderly transport system will be essential to rebuild passenger confidence after the pandemic. This will require stable operating funding and investment in more staff, not a return to failed austerity policies that will drive public transport into a spiral of permanent decline. You can read our policy document ‘A Future for Public Transport in London’, which makes the case for a staff-led recovery here: https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/a-future-for-public-transport-in-london-rmt/

During this pandemic, unlike some of the most powerful people in this country, you’ve done everything asked of you. You’ve put your lives on the line to keep essential services running and you’ve worked in incredibly difficult circumstances. When the government has needed you it’s called you essential keyworkers. When it wants to attack your livelihoods, it resorts to its old playbook of smears and insults. We always knew we were keyworkers but now a growing part of the population also understand who is really essential to our society and our economy. Now is the time to stand together, with your union, help us take our case out to the public and fight off this vicious attack.

I will keep you advised of developments and new campaigning initiatives which you can support. While we work to build political pressure around this case, we need to ensure that our union is as strong as possible. So I’m asking every member to make sure that your colleagues have seen this circular and where you know that people aren’t yet members of our union, tell them that now is the time to join the RMT and join the fight to protect our livelihoods.

Yours sincerely,

Mick Cash
General Secretary