Boris Johnson was urged today (June 26) not to abdicate the government’s responsibilities to London and provide a cash injection to help the capital’s economy recover post-Covid-19.
The call came from Unite as London’s mayor Sadiq Khan issued his budget guidance as to how the Greater London Authority Group (GLA) would look to make savings of up to £500m over the next two years, unless ministers step in.
Unite regional secretary for London Pete Kavanagh said, “The economy and the lives of Londoners have been battered and thrown into turmoil by the coronavirus emergency.
“Because of the unprecedented nature of Covid-19, the government needs to step in with a generous financial settlement to get one of the world’s great cities back to a semblance of normality.
“There are so many reasons why the chancellor Rishi Sunak needs to get his cheque book out to assist London’s post-pandemic recovery,” he added.
“Such a recovery will require a joined-up and properly resourced transport network, which before the lockdown saw London buses alone carrying six million passengers a day.
“The £1.6bn government bailout in May – a combination of grant and loans – for Transport for London (TfL) was only for four months, and carried with it a number of stringent conditions, following the dramatic slump in passenger numbers.
“There now needs to be a serious look at what is needed financially for the short and long-term to keep Londoners on the move.
“Unite members have been on the frontline in London during the crisis, with more than 30 deaths amongst London bus workers,” Kavanagh went on to say.
“They must not now be expected to pay for the government’s apparent reluctance to give the necessary support for the wide range of services that London needs to function as a good place to live and work, and where businesses and the service economy can thrive.
“Unite will fight every step of the way to resist job losses or any erosion of terms and conditions. There is already much to do in terms of addressing driver fatigue, long hours and low pay – without any further pressures in the working lives of our members.
“The prime minister has repeatedly pledged that there will be no return to the austerity regime of previous Tory governments and Unite intends to see that this is one promise that Boris Johnson keeps.
“Now is not the time for the prime minister to abdicate his responsibilities to the people of London.”
Unite is the union for bus workers, TfL and front line workers in revenue protection, bus operations and Dial a Ride, as well as having key groups of membership in London Underground, Croydon Trams and Victoria coach station – all of which could be affected by any future cuts.
By Shaun Noble