Sadiq Khan says he's "worried about industrial relations" as TfL seeks talks with unions to avoid more strike chaos

Rebecca Smith
Monday's strike saw many Zone 1 stations closed with commuters forced to find alternative ways home
Monday's strike saw many Zone 1 stations closed with commuters forced to find alternative ways home (Source: Getty)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was "always worried about industrial relations" after a 24-hour Tube strike caused havoc in the capital yesterday.

He was taking questions from the London Assembly about his prospective Budget for the coming year.

Chair of the Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon asked Khan how concerned he was that significant restructuring and transformational change at Transport for London (TfL) would have an impact on industrial relations.

"We're always worried about industrial relations," Khan responded, and stressed any changes have to be done "in a way that's consultative of those who work in Transport for London". He added that TfL understood "the sensitivities" around the issues.

He has promised to cut numbers of "temporary" agency staff at TfL and implemented an exit programme that has resulted in 49 senior managers leaving the organisation.

Read more: Sadiq Khan’s reckless fares "freeze" fails ordinary London commuters

It comes after a 24-hour strike arranged by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) unions went ahead from 6pm on Sunday, after they rejected last-ditch offers in a dispute over staffing levels at stations.

The mayor has been criticised by some Conservative MPs for the industrial action - Khan had pledged on the campaign trail to have "zero days" of strikes under his tenure.

Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said: "Sadiq Khan's 'zero strikes' promise 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. 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."

Read more: Tube strike causes chaos for commuters and kicks off week of travel misery

TfL said today normal services had resumed and it was keen to pursue further negotiations with unions to avoid further disruption.

"We had always intended to review staffing levels and have had constructive discussions with the unions," said Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer for London Underground. "We agree that we need more staff in our stations and have already started to recruit 200 extra staff and this is likely to increase further as we work through the other areas that need to be addressed."

Currently there are no further talks planned at conciliation service Acas, but a TfL spokesperson said: "We remain open for discussions whenever the unions wish to resume."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash has said: "RMT's executive will be considering the next steps in terms of moving the dispute forwards and the union remains available for serious and genuine talks. However, the union has made it clear that the company needs to move away from the piecemeal and incremental approach to putting jobs back into the system."

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