Examination of Witnesses (Questions 407-419)|
WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2001
407. Gentlemen, may I begin by apologising to
you for our suspended session on the last occasion. You are very
welcome this afternoon and we hope to allow you to escape with
reasonable speed. Can I ask you to identify yourselves for the
(Mr Rix) Michael Rix, General Secretary, ASLEF.
(Mr Crow) Bob Crow, Assistant General Secretary, RMT.
(Mr Rosser) Richard Rosser, General Secretary, Transport
Salaried Staffs Association.
408. Do any of you three gentlemen wish to open
the batting with any general remarks? We did manage to get some
of them on to the record last time. Would you mind therefore if
we went straight to questions? You have suggested that workers
remaining in the public sector after a PPP deal will suffer attacks
on pay and conditions in order to cover any shortfalls in revenue
that London Underground might find on those occasions. What are
you doing to ensure that this does not happen?
(Mr Rix) There are many things, Chair, that we have
done. We have written to the Secretary of State on a number of
issues, ie, pensions, such as whether there is the possibility
of transfer for these people, and indeed this year some of the
things that we have been negotiating with London Underground have
been widely publicised in the newspapers. There were many distortions
in the press but I think it would have been irresponsible for
us as trade union leaders not to ensure that members who could
possibly transfer would not suffer a detriment. There are a number
of issues that we have tried to deal with, one of which was redundancy
and redundancy protection.
409. So we are talking about protection of pensions,
terms of redundancy?
(Mr Rix) That is right, and the compulsory offer of
a job in case an individual's job is restructured or swallowed
up by some other issue. There is now a guarantee that they have
to offer the person another job.
410. Is there anything else that you have gone
(Mr Rix) One of the things that we have been looking
at is commonality of negotiating. We have a signed machinery of
negotiation with London Underground and indeed with the Infracos,
so one of the things that we would like to pursue on this matter
is a commonality between the three Infracos and the LUL so that
pay talks, remuneration and other conditions are held jointly
right across the combine which I believe will protect people and
avoid the lunacy that took place in the former British Rail where
there was a wholesale competition and where the highest bidder
would pay the highest money, leaving shortfalls in other sectors
of the industry, thus creating problems.
411. Is there anything you want to add to that,
(Mr Crow) The situation, as Mick just said, is quite
right. People are covered in Britain at the moment by TUPE. What
we have done with London Underground is TUPE-plus, eg, protection
of staff passes, protection of pensions, which is outside of TUPE.
The problem that we are still concerned about is new entrants
if PPP were to go ahead. Number one, would they still get staff
passes, would they still be in the London Transport Pension Fund?
What has happened with the former British Rail is that people
have come into the industry without getting the same staff travel
benefits, without being in the same pension fund, without having
the same rate of pay, and it causes anger and resentment. What
we have been trying to pursue are pilot schemes which are being
operated under PPP in the National Health Service where individual
contracts of employment will remain with the National Health Service
and their contracts will be negotiated directly with the trade
union. We would like to keep the contracts of employment with
London Underground so that our trades unions TSSA, ASLEF and RMT
can negotiate direct on those contracts of employment.
412. Do you want to add to that, Mr Rosser?
(Mr Rosser) No, I have nothing to add.
413. What undertakings have you had? Presumably
you are talking to Transport for London and London Underground?
(Mr Crow) We are talking directly to London Underground
as the employer because TfL only have that section of people that
will stay within the public sector. What we have got written into
the contracts of employment and also into the main contract which
the Infracos will sign is that anyone made redundant will be offered
another job subject to them being medically fit. If they are made
redundant again they will be offered another job. That is good
employment negotiations by the employer and by the trades unions,
but we are still mainly concerned with a two-tier workforce out
there: those with staff passes, pensions and protection of their
job, and those new people coming in a minute after PPP happens
on worse conditions. That to me is going to cause resentment,
jealousy and bitterness around the combine.
414. On that particular point do you think people
will accept employment on a two-tier system like that?
(Mr Crow) A lot of people have no other option. It
is either the dole queue or a job with those conditions. People
obviously take the conditions they are offered, but when they
come and work alongside people you start off on day one with 100
per cent of the workforce getting one set of conditions. When
someone retires and someone new comes in, they start getting a
small percentage of people on different conditions and over the
course of five, ten, 15 years the majority of people do not have
the same conditions as those people prior to the privatisation
415. Do I take it from the response that you
are accepting that under the PPP there could be substantial reductions
in the project costs of running the service?
(Mr Crow) We have not yet seen the full details of
the contracts. It is at the end of the day none of our business;
it is a matter between London Underground and the Infracos. Our
concern is on the terms and conditions of our members and future
members who come into the system. What we found with what happened
on British Rail was that everyone went over and the pledge was
that your terms and conditions would remain the same as on day
one. If anyone had the opportunity to see The Navigators
film on Sunday evening, it brings out exactly what took place
in the railway network. As soon as new people are taken on you
get some companies that provide exactly the same terms and conditions
as those people prior to privatisation, but you get other contractors
and employers out there that give conditions that are inferior
to the ones there at the moment and this is what causes the bitterness,
jealousy and anger, whereas people say that if you do the same
job you should get the same rate of pay and the same conditions
416. There are records with Pricewaterhouse
where they are saying that through PPP there has been a 20 per
cent saving in the project costs. If that is correct how can you
argue that that should not go ahead, that there should not be
these savings so that more money can be spent on safety and providing
(Mr Rix) What you need to look at is that we have
not seen any sight of any proposed contract, so when people who
are analysing these matters and making these wonderful statements
nobody knows what is in these contracts or what is being proposed.
In fact, what we have tried to do is find a similarity such as
where you as Members have to abide by certain standards of public
life. We have put forward
417. This might not be the day to underline
(Mr Rix) No. One of the things that we have tried
to put forward is that when we are dealing with public money should
that not also be looked into, that there should be a standard
and more openness so that we can make a balanced judgement? In
some respects, with regard to what Pricewaterhouse are saying,
we are not in a position to challenge these issues because we
have not really seen the in-depth analysis on them. There are
elements that where there have been privatisations in the past
and where there have been privatisations recently, or where there
has been a move under a public/private partnership, the whole
essence of the new employer is to alter the conditions of employees
and usually on the cheap, or reduce staff numbers. The fact of
the matter is that this PPP is supposed to be about regenerating
London Underground with major infrastructure changes in engineering,
so we should not be looking at getting rid of staff; we should
be looking at increasing staff to carry out these infrastructure
projects. These companies will look at a cost basis to do it on
the cheap and they will do that by agency working and through
(Mr Rosser) My recollection of the costs is that we
were told that privatisation of the main railway system would
reduce costs and lead to greater efficiency and we would all get
the benefits of private sector management and expertise. I think
there are quite a few people now who are struggling to find evidence
of being able to run the railway network more cheaply and more
efficiently. I would only beg of you to be a bit wary of consultants
who come out with statements like this. It is why we have been
asking, as I know you have as well, for transparency. Let us see
the basis on which those calculations have been done. I do not
swallow, I am afraid, this argument about commercial confidentiality.
Surely the basis on which these bids are put in or may be accepted
is far more importantand we are talking about transport
in Londonthan this so-called get-out clause every time
of commercial confidentiality.
418. I would like to state that my husband works
for an American airline company before I ask this question. Are
you aware of any other industry undergoing restructuring at the
present time that would acquiesce to the type of conditions that
you are asking for?
(Mr Crow) We understand that in the NHS there are
three pilot schemes going on.
419. In the transport sector.
(Mr Crow) Going through restructuring from public