Tube Strikes

MQT on 2014-07-23
Session date: 
July 23, 2014
Question By: 
Richard Tracey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Considering the Prime Minister's recent statement on strikes, would you encourage him to go further and ban strikes on the Tube, in favour of binding arbitration?


Answer for Tube Strikes

Answer for Tube Strikes

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The policy that you are advocating is interesting, though where we are really at one is in wanting a threshold for the ballots.  That seems to me to be reasonable.  We now seem to be within striking distance of achieving it in the sense that the Government has said it is in favour of the idea and that it will use the next Parliament to bring it in and that is very good news.


Richard Tracey AM:  Yes, indeed, Mr Mayor.  I share your optimism that a Conservative government would bring in some legislation at last to deal with this, despite the shilly-shallying of the current Liberal Democrat Business Secretary [Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills], who I believe is not in favour of such legislation.


Can I draw your attention to my question, however?  It talks about binding arbitration.  The reason that we on this side support the idea is that in New York, a law was brought in in 1967, which is commonly known as the ‘Taylor Law’.  It has meant that since 1967 there have been only four strikes in New York’s public sector.  In your manifesto in 2008, you said that you hoped to bring in a no-strikes situation, particularly in the Tube.  Do you not think that Londoners still support what you said in 2008 and want a no-strikes situation, despite what the union would prefer?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If you look at what has happened in New York in more detail, Dick, you would find it very instructive because it is perfectly true that they have had the Taylor Law since 1967.  It has, however, meant that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has basically been in a continual position of being - as it were - induced or obliged to move closer to the position of the union and in many cases, to head them off at the pass or anticipate their demands by simply agreeing, rather than going to binding arbitration and risking losing.  The result is that if you have travelled on the New York Subway, as I am sure you have, you will see that it does suffer from underinvestment.  It does suffer from problems that we are starting to sort out.  It does suffer from a lack of modernisation that we are addressing.  Things like the reform of ticket offices and concourses, the new signalling and many of the reforms that we are putting in would be more difficult to achieve.  Therefore, I am not tempted down the line that you indicate and nor, frankly, do I think that any Conservative should be.


Richard Tracey AM:  All strength to your arm in persuading a future Conservative government to bring in the right legislation.  It loses £50 million a day every time there is an Underground strike in London.  Frankly, all Londoners are sick of these sorts of strikes.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  They are and I appreciate that point.  The message that I want to get over again to anybody following this and certainly to our staff in Transport for London (TfL) and London Underground (LU) is that we think that by modernising, by improving and by investing, we will create a better and bigger service with more jobs.  They will not be the same old jobs.  They will be different jobs.  They will be new jobs interacting with customers in different ways.  However, that is progress and that is what we are determined to achieve.