Strike Action (1)

MQT on 2017-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2017
Question By: 
Keith Prince
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


The Mayor has recently boasted of 92% fewer days lost to strike action under his Mayoralty. Is this figure still correct?


Answer for Strike Action (1)

Answer for Strike Action (1)

Answered By: 
The Mayor


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Assembly Member Prince, for your question.  As I have made clear, the recent strike was unnecessary and caused disruption for millions of Londoners.  It is disappointing that some are using the disruption for political point-scoring.  What happened last week was the result of a historic dispute, which began with Boris Johnson [MP, former Mayor of London].  I did not see your condemnation of the previous Mayor for the strikes on the same issues or of the record levels of industrial action when he was in office.  I am left dealing with the toxic hangover from his mayoralty.


Prior to last week’s strike, there was a 92% reduction on the last Mayor’s record over an average seven-month period.  Clearly, last week’s strike will change this statistic.  It will take time to compile and verify the impact of Monday’s strike in terms of working days lost in line with the official Office of National Statistics (ONS) methodology because there are large numbers of staff working across the network on different shift patterns and rosters.  What we do know is that the last three years of Boris Johnson’s mayoralty included record levels of strike action.


What is important is that I am not just sitting on the side-lines like the previous Mayor or smirking from the side-lines like some Assembly Members.  I am working tirelessly to deal with his failed legacy.  I have delivered on my promise to review ticket-office closures and TfL is now acting on the clear recommendations of the London TravelWatch report.


I have also sought to improve relationships with the trade unions and we have ensured that 11 disputes have been suspended or resolved in my first seven months in the jobs.  Businesses, commuters and Londoners should just imagine what would have happened if there was a Conservative Mayor in the first seven months of my mayoralty.  I have called on the unions to get back into discussions and to sort this out without further unnecessary strike action.  As we move forward, I will reduce the number of days lost to strike action, as set out in my manifesto, while dealing with the toxic legacy of industry relations.


Keith Prince AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  That was a lovely answer.  You will find - and you may or may not agree with this - that your predecessor, Boris Johnson, stood up for Londoners and he stood up against the unions and he represented the people of London.  He did not curtail to the unions, although unfortunately - and I have just checked your figures - you are 278% worse performing than the [previous] Mayor on average for this month.


Can you tell me, Mr Mayor?  In your own words, strikes are a “failure” and so, clearly, you accept that you are failing.  Do you feel that you perhaps owe Londoners an apology for breaking your promise that you made in February that there would be zero strikes under your mayoralty, that you would roll up your sleeves and have much better industrial relations and that there would be zero strikes?  Do you feel that you owe the people of London an apology for your “failure”, in your own words?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me deal with your thesis.  How is it standing up for Londoners when there are a record number of days lost by industrial action, businesses losing millions in money and commuters suffering misery and mayhem?  This is yet another example of misleading figures.  During Boris Johnson’s eight years as Mayor, there were 32,212 working days lost as a result of strikes.  That is an average of 336 days a month.  That is not standing up for Londoners.  By contrast, in my first seven months, we had 173 days lost, which is 25 a month.  That is 336 a month versus 25 a month.  That is not standing up for Londoners.


Keith Prince AM:  It is not zero, either, is it?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The reality is that when there are strikes, it is a failure, which is why you have to talk to the staff and you have to talk to those who represent the staff.  It is not a virility test or a test of how macho you are by talking tough through the media.  What you have to do is resolve differences around the table.  I will not apologise for trying to resolve differences around the table.


What I wish you would do is stop misleading the public and causing more problems with industrial relations.


Keith Prince AM:  It was not me who misled the public by saying that I was going to have zero strikes, was it?  Neither did Boris [Johnson MP].  The fact is, Mr Mayor, that it takes a big man to apologise for a mistake.  Clearly, you have made a mistake.  Clearly, you have not delivered on zero strikes.  All you have to do is to say, “Sorry, but I am trying to do better”, and people would respect you more for that, Mr Mayor.


Can I ask you how your relations are with the unions and how your relations are with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), which has pledged to try to bring down the Government through these strikes, and how your relations are with the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), Mr Mayor?  How are you getting on with them?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I apologise to Baroness Jones?  The quality of questions has got worse since you were last here, Baroness Jones.  That is the only apology you are going to get from me, Assembly Member Prince.  What a woeful start to the year from you.


Keith Prince AM:  The quality of answers is even worse.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let me be quite clear.  I have to have good relations as the Mayor with businesses, with chief executives ‑‑


Keith Prince AM:  The question is about the RMT and the TSSA.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ with trade unions, even with Conservative Members of the Assembly who mislead the public ‑‑


Keith Prince AM:  If you cannot answer the question, Mr Mayor, I understand, but it is on the RMT and the TSSA.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and I do not apologise for trying to be a Mayor for all Londoners.


Keith Prince AM:  All right.  Clearly, you do not really want to talk about the TSSA because, as you know, it granted £10,000 to your campaign and, also, I believe you had a fulltime staffer from the TSSA who was working with you during your campaign.  Can I ask you, Mr Mayor?  Is he still working with you or has he gone on strike?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Assembly Member Prince, with the numbers of people helping on my campaign, I am surprised if members of your family were not helping on my campaign.  I bet there are Members on that side whose family members were delivering leaflets for me.


Keith Prince AM:  I can tell you that actually ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  --that is the amount of help I had with my campaign.


Keith Prince AM:  ‑‑ at our last strike campaign, Mr Mayor, in January - I think it was on the 4th - there were four of your campaigners delivering for us for 45 minutes before they realised they were giving out leaflets for the wrong party. All I can take from this, Mr Mayor ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I can only apologise, Chairman, again to Baroness Jones for the ineptitude of these questions.  I do apologise, Baroness Jones.


Keith Prince AM:  One final thing, Mr Mayor, actually.  Will you back a change in the law to move to pendulum arbitration so that the people of London do not have to be the victims of this political ping-pong?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I always respect the law.


Keith Prince AM:  No, I did not ask you whether you respect the law, Mr Mayor.  I have no doubt that you do.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I was not clear what you were asking.  I have been confused for the last five minutes.


Keith Prince AM:  What I would like to ask you, Mr Mayor, is: do you support the introduction of pendulum arbitration?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I support the law.


Keith Prince AM:  Once again, Mr Mayor, we see you not answering any questions.  That is fine, but the people of London will remember.