A joint meeting of the Company Councils for TfL, LU, and ex-TubeLines, the highest negotiating body in each company, on 23 June reiterated the bosses' position that TfL's financial situation makes cuts inevitable.
Although there was no concrete detail in management's presentation, its essential message was: anything could be in the scope for cuts. The latest funding settlement has already led to a pay freeze for all centrally-employed TfL staff earning over £24,000, which could be extended to LU when the current LU-specific pay deal expires in 2023. The presentation also commits to "reviewing" the TfL pension scheme, something we've known for some time is in management's sights.
Management want unions to enter into a special series of negotiation meetings with them to discuss how the cuts should be managed. All four LU unions have, so far, refused to entertain this and are insisting on a no-cuts position, rather than assisting management in determining which cuts should be made.
TfL/LU bosses have no right to our goodwill. They have accepted the Tories' logic that TfL must be "self-financing", and accept that this means cuts are necessary. Although Mayor Khan has made some limited statements criticising the terms of the Tories' funding settlements, he could have - and still could - take a much clearer, stronger public stand, and say explicitly that London's public transport system cannot run on the terms the Tories are imposing on it.
We should demand that the Labour administration in City Hall backs us in any action we take to resist cuts.
Aslef already has a ballot mandate, which runs until September, and can strike with 14 days' notice. RMT, TSSA, and Unite must also ballot as soon as possible. Some argue we should wait until LU has announced the specific details of its planned cuts, as it'll be easier to mobilise members to fight against specific attacks rather than a general threat of cuts over the horizon. The risk with that approach is that, by the time specifics have been announced, it may well be too late. Strong pre-emptive resistance can force management back.
That industrial response must be accompanied by a political campaign, in alliance with community and passenger groups, demanding sustainable central government funding for TfL and highlighting the injustice of the Tories' plans, which leave TfL the only metro system of its type in the world not to receive any central government subsidy. A properly-funded, properly-staffed transport system in the capital is an essential public service and social good. It should be publicly funded, including by increased taxation on the rich and business.