TfL funding negotiations: open the books!

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Sun, 19/12/2021 - 15:55,
Photograph of a London Underground roundel underneath Big Ben

The government has extended TfL’s existing funding package to 4 February. TfL and Sadiq Khan have been given until 19 January to outline their proposals for a longer-term funding settlement.

The future of our jobs, and the future of the services we provide, are on the table. And yet we as workers, and our representative organisations (unions), have no direct role in the discussions, even though we’re amongst the people who’ll be most affected by their outcomes.

Some of the participants in these talks are elected politicians, but many are unelected bureaucrats, managers, and officials, either from City Hall, Palestra/Endeavour Square, or Whitehall.

Why should negotiations of this importance be conducted behind closed doors? Some of the thinking of both parties is discernible through terms of reference documents they’ve published, or reviews they’ve commissioned, but even then, much remains opaque: when the government commissioned auditing giant KPGM to review TfL’s finances, most of the final report was redacted and even many TfL bosses weren’t allowed to view it!

The books should be thrown open so we can scrutinise exactly what strings the government are demanding as conditions of further funding, and exactly what TfL is saying in response. That degree of transparency and openness only seems radical and extreme because of the undemocratic assumptions we all internalise as part of capitalist society: that the big important decisions have to be taken by the big, important people - bosses and politicians.

But it’s our labour that runs the railway, so it’s us, in conjunction and coordination with passenger groups, who should decide what happens.

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