Mayor's concessions to the unions over Tube strikes will cost £17m a year, say GLA Conservatives

Rebecca Smith
London Underground has made a fresh proposal on upping recruitment
London Underground has made a fresh proposal to unions on upping recruitment (Source: Getty)

Efforts to avoid a repeat of this month's hugely disruptive Tube strike will come at a hefty cost, GLA Conservatives have warned.

London Underground (LU) bosses have been in fresh talks with the RMT union to try and avoid more walkouts starting at the end of this week.

As part of its proposals made to both the RMT and the TSSA, LU said it will add 325 additional new roles this year, in a long-running dispute over job cuts and the closure of ticket offices. A strike by the unions earlier this month shut down the majority of Zone 1 stations.

But Conservatives say that offer to the unions will cost around £17m a year. Following the closure of ticket offices, Transport for London (TfL) had planned to remove 950 station positions at savings of £50m a year.

Read more: Talks underway to avoid bumper Tube strikes going ahead later this week

Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives have criticised the mayor for giving into union demands and scaling back plans to reduce "unnecessary station staff".

Keith Prince, Conservative London Assembly member and deputy chair of the Transport Committee, said: "The mayor has made big claims that he will cut waste at TfL, but today he has hired 325 staff members proven to be unnecessary. Having already broken his 'zero strikes' pledge Sadiq Khan is buckling under the pressure of his union paymasters."

Read more: Mayor blames strike troubles on "toxic hangover" left from Boris Johnson

He added that this move was "just another example of his weak decision-making".

A source close to the mayor though, dismissed the claims. "This is total nonsense from the Tories - who can't be trusted with transport in London," they said. "Sadiq will keep working around the clock to reduce the number of strikes because he is firmly on the side of the commuters."

City A.M. understands that the new staff would be a mix of full-time and part-time staff - not all full-time workers, and that not all the new staff would be in the highest salary band, so TfL would expect the cost to be lower than the £17m claimed by the GLA Conservatives.

In December, an independent review by TravelWatch, commissioned by Sadiq Khan, found that ticket offices shouldn't be reopened though they had been closed prematurely.

Earlier this month, the mayor blamed strike troubles on a "toxic hangover" left from Boris Johnson's mayoralty.

He had come under fire from London Assembly Conservative members for breaking his "zero days of strikes" made on his campaign trail.

"What is important is I'm not just sitting on the side-lines like the previous mayor, or smirking from the sidelines like some Assembly members," Khan said at his first Mayor's Question Time of the year.

"I'm working tirelessly to deal with his failed legacy, I've delivered on my promise to review ticket office closures and TfL is acting on the clear recommendations of the London TravelWatch report. I've also sought to improve relationships with the trade unions."

City Hall has been approached for comment.

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