Labour’s Sadiq Khan has blamed Mayor Boris Johnson’s failure “to negotiate or even meet” with unions for the prospect of further strikes over the introduction of the Night Tube.
On Sunday it emerged that the Aslef and RMT unions are considering fresh strike action in their ongoing dispute about pay and conditions for staff affected by the new service.
Mr Khan, whose campaign is backed by the TSSA and Aslef Tube unions, says there have been twice as many strikes (35) during Johnson’s term as mayor as there were during Ken Livingstone’s leadership of the city (16).
The mayoral hopeful said: “Boris Johnson has refused to meet the trade unions even once during his eight years as Mayor – leading to more strikes taking place on the Underground”
“Londoners need both sides to talk and resolve their differences. As Mayor I will make this happen and stop strikes on the Underground”.
City Hall has previously said that Johnson’s policy of not negotiating with unions is consistent with the approach taken by Mr Livingstone, a key backer of Khan’s mayoral bid.
While the former mayor did occasionally meet with unions to urge them to accept offers already made by managers, his publicly stated policy was not to become directly involved in negotiations.
In July 2004 Livingstone said workers and their unions “must” resolve any disputes with Transport for London bosses and “cannot expect to come to me as a court of appeal”.
He also said that for him to improve tabled deals would “undermine management”.
Two years later Mr Livingstone said it was important not to “reward trade unions who go on strike by simply giving them another concession.”
He told London Assembly members: “I would defend to the death the right of trade unions to go on strike, the right to strike is the second most important right we have, after the right to vote, but it is important that it is used only as a last resort.
“I regret that the three previous governments always caved in and, rather than see Londoners walk to work again, bought short-term political peace whilst spurring long-term industrial anarchy.”
In response to Mr Khan’s comments, Mayor Johnson branded his would-be successor “a tool” of the Tube unions and claimed the Labour hopeful “isn’t capable of making the tough decisions” needed by Londoners.