Richard Tracey is GLA Conservatives transport spokesman and Conservative London Assembly Member for Wandsworth and Merton
Once again, we find ourselves under threat from yet another potential tube strike. RMT members are being balloted on a possible “significant few days of action” in the New Year according to union bosses.
Whether or not the strike ultimately goes ahead, just the threat of action will make life worse for ordinary Londoners. If strike action does happen, then London’s economy will suffer but so will the many Londoners who will not get paid if they do not go to work.
Research shows that one day of tube strikes costs the City’s economy around £48 million, reflecting costs to businesses and the many hard-working people for whom a tube strike means loss of pay. These people deserve better.
The current system encourages militant trade union bosses to continuously threaten strike action. Since 2005, London has seen more than 30 tube strikes with reasons including calls for a shorter working week and triple pay on Boxing Day. Just two weeks ago, on Boxing Day, tube drivers on £46,000 starting salaries and 43 days of holiday per year, agreed to call off a planned strike after being promised a £350 bung just to do their job. There is clearly something wrong with the system.
The Government should urgently reform strike laws for Tube employees and other public transport workers across the UK. Replacing public transport strikes with mediation will protect workers’ rights, while making sure hard-working people do not suffer from travel chaos and loss of pay.
I am specifically calling on Parliament to introduce “binding pendulum arbitration” – where an independent judge chooses between the positions of the union and the employer. This will encourage union bosses to make reasonable demands and help secure moderate outcomes for both sides, ultimately protecting hard-working people.
If you don’t believe ordinary Londoners should face near constant blackmail, then please sign my petition. www.glaconservatives.co.uk/