Monday's announcement that the TfL strike will go ahead is a further example of changes to large companies being implemented from the top without employee consultation. The proposed change is a good one, the approach to the proposed change, a bad one. A number of large cities run 24-hour transport services and this will help a number of Londoners. The approach though demonstrates yet again a lack of coherent vision and execution strategy from the outgoing, part-time Mayor of London.
This is a chance that can help workers that have night shifts, finish work in the early, morning hours because they work in warehouses, restaurants, bars or start work in the early hours in the morning. Anyone who has ever taken a night bus can attest to it being a poor alternative to taking the tube due to normally how long it takes to reach the same destination. Yet, this is promoted as a change that will help people going out, staying late, having fun and then staggering back home drunk. This is then mandated to staff without much prior consultation because the Mayor wants it to be his final achievement. A party mayor looking after the party people.
It is no surprise that a number of unions (even the moderate ones) have decided to strike. An ever-increasing number of studies show that night time work impacts negatively health and life expectancy. This is in addition to any private and social impact this change will have as people working nights will not have time to see their families and allow for quality downtime.
I do not want to be taking the tube knowing that the driver may have not had a decent' s night rest and his or her reflexes and responses might be delayed even by a few milliseconds. I want that driver, who in every journey between tube stops holds the life of hundreds of passengers in the train, to be in peak condition.
Yet, this change is something to be expected by someone who believes that can easily do three jobs at once. At a time when most of us are trying to do our best in our current job, putting extra hours in, when some of us are having a second job because one is not enough, not paying the living wage, the current Mayor believes that he can be the Mayor of London, he can represent 70 thousand people in Uxbridge and South Ruislip as an MP, be a newspaper columnist and have time to research and write a book.
This approach to the Mayor of London position demonstrates a significant disregard for its importance and needs. If the person at the top believes he can do the job part-time, it is no surprise he believes that working night shifts would not have an impact to the people covering the shifts so there is no need to consult them.
For a Mayor who under-invested to improve London's ageing infrastructure yet had no issues in investing in new vanity ideas such as the air line and the garden bridge, the approach to TfL negotiations should be expected. As he abandons the office, he does not have to deal with the consequences. This is for the next Mayo to deal with. In the meantime, TfL workers are striving to maintain a decent standard of living that does not impact their ability to do their job.