Priorities for the Tube (Supplementary) [8]

Session date: 
April 4, 2001
Question By: 
Roger Evans
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Strikes are illegal in New York, Mr Mayor - that is the difference.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Priorities for the Tube (Supplementary) [8]

Answer for Priorities for the Tube (Supplementary) [8]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

But that does not stop people going on strike, as we recall in Britain: when Ted Heath passed legislation making strikes in certain circumstances illegal, people promptly went on strike.

Bob Kiley managed to get away without strike action there. I think that, by means of his direct and straightforward way of working, his commitment to expanding the Underground service and saying honestly to the trade unions that changes in working practices have to come - he has my support in that - we will be able to get a strike-free period on the Underground.

The detailed points about parking and running extra buses were not decisions that came anywhere near me. They were taken by the management of London Underground on the wholly professional basis that it was counter-productive to try to run more buses, because there is no capacity to get more buses in when the streets are so congested. Also, you do not want to get even higher levels of congestion on a strike day by opening more car parking spaces; London promptly reaches saturation. These were technical issues which did not come to me; they were handled by the professionals on the basis of the best interests of transport policy for London.

Let me simply say, because I know you are dying to hear me say it, that I do regret that there was a strike last week. On the original one-day strike, you will recall, RMT lost a court case brought by London Underground. They were not going to give in to that, so they promptly went back and had a second day. If London Underground had not been so stupid in going to court, we would have had one strike, not two days of strikes.

My advice now to the trade unions is that this matter is before the courts and we should wait to see the courts resolve it. Strike action on the Underground before the court case would be counter-productive and undermine our chance of winning that case. Therefore, I would urge the trade unions to put their industrial action programme on hold until we have the outcome of the court case; then they can see how it has gone and take their own decisions.