Tube strikes 2022: TfL may need to budget for cost of numerous walk-outs, transport bosses warn

Transport chiefs gave the warning at a budget committee meeting, branding the weekend Night Tube strikes “disappointing” and “the last thing we need”.

Top bosses at TfL have warned the operator may need to budget for the impact of Tube strikes on its books this financial year, it has been revealed.

The network is considering making allowances in its budget for the knock on effect of industrial action over the coming year, City Hall has been told.

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Transport chiefs gave the warning at a budget committee meeting today (Friday, January 14), branding the weekend Night Tube strikes “disappointing” and “the last thing we need”.

It comes as the next phase is set to go ahead this weekend, after the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said negotiations were stopped by TfL, which union leaders slammed as “frustrating”.

Simon Kilonback, head of finance at TfL, told assembly members strikes were “not just the odd day”, and warned: “As we get towards the March budget, given the mandate the RMT have we might for the first time in a long time think about whether we have to provide for a potential impact.”

He said: “We don’t as a matter of course budget for industrial action. We don’t make provision for it in our budgets.

“When it does happen, the impact depends on a lot of variables - is it network wide, or more limited?

“Broadly speaking, the impact is the revenue foregone as a result of passenger trips lost and it’s clearly almost impossible to predict that until you know whether you’re facing something.”

While TfL commissioner Andy Byford said: “We are trying to resolve [strikes] through talks with ACAS and I implore colleagues from the RMT to engage with us and ACAS with a meaningful tangible solution to this which takes account of our financial situation.”

He told the assembly the strikes related to work roster for night shifts, which he said “have been agreed with the dominant union, namely ASLEF”.

And he added: “It relates to drivers being asked to work four jobs a year. They can swap out of that - so they don’t have to work any. No jobs are lost.

“It’s disappointing that this industrial action is happening - obviously it has an impact.”

The commissioner said he understood “feelings are running high” and vowed: “We do need to tackle these uncertainties, and we’re battling to try to get this budget issue sorted out.”

But he added: “The worst thing we could do is incur industrial action which would only mean that we have even fewer people riding the system, and they really are the dominant source of our revenue.

“I’m really trying to get that across to people.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are angry and frustrated that once again a proposal from our negotiators that would pave the way to lifting the current action has been knocked back by Tube chiefs.

“Our proposal would deal with the central issue at the heart of this dispute – work life balance.

“We are not backing down, the action goes ahead and with the government on the point of lifting some COVID restrictions it’s down to LU to start negotiating seriously.”

TfL employs more than 3,000 Tube drivers, according to recent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests answered by the operator, who earn, as of 2019, an average salary of £52,329.

However, the vital role - which demands regular weekend work, 4.45am starts and 1.30am finishes - means drivers cannot drink any alcohol for eight hours prior to beginning a shift.

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