Comment on tube strikes

09/01/2017  -  11.24

Professor Roger Seifert, Professor of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations

‌The immediate cause of the current 24-hour tube strike on the London Underground is about staffing levels and associated society issues. Last year the employer, LfT, cut 900 jobs at stations and closed some ticket offices. This was entirely a cost-saving exercise rather than anything to do with providing a better and safer service for passengers. As a result, and after union warnings, some of job cuts resulted in station closures and a worse overall service. The unions, RMT and TSSA, urged LfT and the London Mayor to restore job numbers. The employer agreed to restore some jobs but did so at a slow pace. As a result, and after lengthy negotiations including some at ACAS, the unions decided that not enough was being done and had little faith in the employers' promises. Hence the strike. ‌

The impact on individual workers and commuters is severe, but the overall cost to the London economy will be small since work can be rescheduled if it is only for one day.If there are further strikes then the costs will escalate as will the reputational damage to London as a city open for business. The Mayor should use his influence on the employer and pressure them to speed up recruitment, shelve further botched plans for re-organisation, and push for a more positive industrial relations climate.