Greater London Authority’s Conservatives have slammed Sadiq Khan ahead of fresh disruption on London’s tube network this week, as the mayor’s commitment to halting industrial action during his tenure comes back to haunt him.
“Sadiq Khan pledged that there would be zero strikes under his mayoralty but he has the worst strikes record of any Mayor of London. His pledge is in tatters.” Keith Prince, City Hall’s Conservative transport spokesman told City A.M.
“These strikes cause chaos for hardworking Londoners and damage London’s economy… Londoners need a mayor who will stand up for them and keep our great city moving.”
As part of his leadership campaign, Khan promised there would be no industrial action on public transport during his time in office but 135 walk-outs have been staged across the Transport for London (TfL) network since he took the role.
A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Under this government, we have seen an increase in strikes right across the country.”
The spokesperson blamed the “punitive conditions” placed on TfL by the government during the pandemic and said pre-pandemic “Sadiq had reduced overall strike action on TfL services by over 70 per cent compared to the previous Mayor’s record.”
Tube services on Wednesday and Friday this week will be “severely” disrupted as thousands of workers from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walk out in a dispute over job cuts and safety.
The action will coincide with a nationwide ban on overtime working from the train drivers’ union Aslef, intended to hit the Conservative Party Conference and comes amid a worsening of the now more than a year-long dispute on Britain’s railway network.
According to estimates from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), shared with City A.M., this week’s strikes will cause a £62.5m hit to the capital’s economy.
The CEBR said that despite working from home trends softening the impact, London would suffer “disproportionately” due to the Tube strikes and given its commuters are “relatively more reliant on rail transport”.
James Watkins, head of policy and public impact at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) told City A.M. the tube strikes would have a “debilitating impact on our city”.
“The cumulative impact on small businesses’ bottom lines and the knock-on impact on livelihoods is being tangibly felt in every London borough.”
The LCCI are urging parties on both sides of the dispute to come together, or risk London losing its status as “the key global city for jobs and growth”.
The hospitality industry has fired similar warnings of the impact on pubs and retail businesses in the capital. Kate Nicholls, chief of UK Hospitality, told City A.M. last week the feud had already “written off £3.5bn in lost sales” nationally over the last year.
Khan narrowly avoided a complete shutdown of London’s Tube network in July, after three unions struck a last minute deal with TfL over pay and pensions.
He had previously denied pledging to halt strike action in London.