Transport unions will next week stage protests outside parliament to warn that the capital will “grind to a halt” without long-term financial help for Transport for London (TfL).
Wednesday’s protest will see members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) rally against the government’s refusal to offer a long-term funding deal to TfL.
London’s transport network has been given a series of short-term bailouts since the start of Covid-19, when revenues plummeted due to lockdown, with the latest set to run out on 11 December.
It comes after the RMT brought London to a standstill on Friday as workers on five Tube lines went on strike in a move that was labelled as “unnecessary” and “disruptive” by mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes told the PA news agency: “This is a hugely important demonstration because we know our public transport system in London desperately needs a proper long-term funding settlement from the government.
“Yet instead, we see ministers attacking TfL services and budgets with the sole aim of undermining London and our brave transport workers who have stood on the front line throughout the Covid crisis.”
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, said that “that attacks on pensions, pay freezes and threats to services and jobs is not an acceptable way to treat London’s transport workers who have kept the city moving through a global pandemic”.
A report from TfL earlier this month said there will be a £6.6bn black hole in its finances between 2022 and 2055, after its revenues were £1.2bn below expectations this year.
TfL warned that it would need to dramatically cut services unless the government can come up with a long-term deal and oversee a “managed decline” of the network.
A government spokesman said: “We have repeatedly shown our commitment to supporting London’s transport network through the pandemic, providing more than £4bn in emergency funding to Transport for London.”