More talking, less tweeting – and free travel on Royal Wedding Day

January 12, 2011 10:00 pm

BorisBy Ken Livingstone / @ken4london

We are now engaged in one of the most bizarre episodes in industrial relations in London Underground’s history, which can only worsen the atmosphere between workforce and management, all because of the failure of Boris Johnson to develop a sensible strategy for employee relations for London.

To be absolutely clear Aslef, the union involved in a dispute about the overall issue of bank holiday working, has made it clear that there has been no discussion of a Royal Wedding Day strike, and no ballot for such a strike, and that talks on the underlying issue of bank holiday working are in any case due to resume.

Yet the Mayor has gone into overdrive, first exclaiming, Victor Meldrew-like, that he ‘Can’t believe this‘ and ‘surely not’, then demanding that Londoners bombard the union with their views.

So the executive mayor of the city, and the ultimate employer of London’s transport workers, is reduced to tweeting urging the public to send emails to the representatives of his own workforce but has never sat down to talkwith the three main tube unions at all, ever.

He is only going to further worsen trust and confidence in employee relations by his approach.

We need more talking to the workforce and less tweeting.

The Mayor may have calculated that there are votes in appearing to take the union on over a strike that is not in any case happening. That is unsurprising given that in general under Boris Johnson strikes are up, as George Eaton of the New Statesman has shown. Moreover, he has reneged on his promise to negotiate a no-strike deal, never lifting a finger to implement a policy he made much of during the election.

And his colleague in Downing Street, David Cameron, may have concluded that a joining a fake row over a strike not even discussed or balloted by the union involved is a favourable diversion from his weakness towards the bankers. The whole thing is like something out of Wag the Dog.

The Tory approach to employee relations in London has led not only to rising strikes on the Underground, in part driven by Boris Johnson’s broken promises over ticket office opening hours, but also poisonous relations with London’s firefighters. The Tory Mayor of London is now at the forefront of demands to attack public sector trade unions, whilst he defends bankers and presses for lower taxes on the rich.

The Mayor must instead get a grip. There are three things he must do. One, he must end his self-defeating failure to ever meet the tube unions. That policy is demonstrably foolish. Two, he must end posturing in favour of serious employee relations. More talking, less tweeting. And three, he must sack his back-to-the-eighties macho management fire chief Brian Coleman, who is single-handedly poisoning relations with the workforce and consistently makes a resolution of employee issues less likely, rather than more likely.

If you agree that the Mayor needs to start to talking to his staff from now on, you can email him here: mayor@london.gov.uk

Finally, one more thing. Millions of people are going to need to move around London on the day of the Royal Wedding. Many of those will not have Oyster cards or be regular users of the transport network. Some others may be tempted to move around the city by car, which in many cases would be the least efficient way to commute.

Something practical, rather than just posturing, needs to be done to make the day go smoothly. So over those modes of transport the Mayor controls there should be free travel on Royal Wedding day to make the city move as efficiently as possible. I hope the Mayor takes up my proposal on this.

If you agree that the Mayor needs to end his failure to engage with his own staff, and if you want free travel on Royal Wedding Day, email Boris Johnson at mayor@london.gov.uk

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Featured My visit to Israel and Palestine this week has strengthened my commitment to a two state solution

    My visit to Israel and Palestine this week has strengthened my commitment to a two state solution

    Since Operation Protective Edge began in early July, at least 1,360 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, and a quarter of Gaza’s population has been forced from their homes. Two Israeli civilians have lost their lives in rocket attacks, several hundred have been injured, and 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed. Today, the latest appalling loss of life is yet another tragic example of the death and destruction that has resulted from the escalation of this conflict. Of course this […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Grayling gives speech attacking Labour while his own department publish his failings

    Grayling gives speech attacking Labour while his own department publish his failings

    You know that a Cabinet Minister’s speech has no positive message when the Tory Press Office Twitter account bothers to livetweet it.And that’s exactly what happened with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s attack on Labour spending plans this morning. No, we don’t they got him to do it either. The speech itself was standard fare: lots of attacks on trade unions dressed up as economic commentary. What was interesting was that while he was giving it, the Ministry of Justice released […]

    Read more →
  • Comment I do not have a vote in the referendum, but I do have a voice

    I do not have a vote in the referendum, but I do have a voice

    For me, the debate about why Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom is personal and emotive – but is also about hard facts. We are tied together by bonds of friendship, family and economy in so many ways. My family history – going back some 300 years – is Northern Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh. I was born and brought up in Wales by a Cumbrian mother and a Wiltshire father. I went to university in England, and […]

    Read more →
  • News Seats and Selections Miliband’s greatest quality is that he’s willing to have a “bloody good think”, says Dobson

    Miliband’s greatest quality is that he’s willing to have a “bloody good think”, says Dobson

    Last week, Frank Dobson announced his intention to stand down as MP for Holborn and St Pancras after 35 years. Today, The Guardian have a candid and, at times, touching interview with the former Health Secretary. In a wide-ranging conversation with Owen Jones, Dobson sounds optimistic about the current state of the Labour Party: he’s “very confident” Labour will win next year’s election and is pleased that the Party has avoided going “a bit 1979″. Ed Miliband has ensured that […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Is the NHS in crisis? What is going on with our health service, explained

    Is the NHS in crisis? What is going on with our health service, explained

    Monday’s front-pages would have made for pretty grim reading in Number 10 and Jeremy Hunt’s office. “Critical: NHS in crisis as budgets cut”, said The Sun.  “Millions shut out of doctors’ surgeries”, added The Times. Headlines about the NHS are exactly what the Conservatives don’t want ten months out from a general election.  Talk to our strengths, not our weaknesses, says Lynton Crosby.  However, as Monday’s headlines showed, this is difficult to pull off in practice. But, behind the headlines and […]

    Read more →