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Boris: Government "not moving fast enough" on strike ballots minimum threshold

A key objective for Boris Johnson's second term as Mayor of London must be breaking the stranghold of the union militants over the tube network in London.

At a recent Mayor's Question Time session with the London Assembly he indicated his impatience at the delay of the Government to bring in a reform that would help:

Tony Arbour (AM): In the light of Londoners’ recent endorsement of your policies, will you redouble your efforts to persuade the Government to introduce legislation to ensure that a strike ballot requires 50% + 1 of eligible voters to support it in order for any subsequent strike to be valid?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, Tony, I will continue to press this case. I have to say that it is not something that the Government, I think, is moving fast enough on, but it is a powerful case.

Tony Arbour (AM):  Do you not think that your hand has been very considerably strengthened by your victory when this was clearly one of the issues in London, that when you go to Ministers, particularly the Conservative Members of the Coalition, you will be able to say to them that you speak with the support of more than 1 million voters in London, who do expect Conservatives to keep their promises?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.

Tony Arbour (AM):  On that basis, do you think you are likely to get a sympathetic reception?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I very much hope so, and it is something that we will certainly continue to press, and where you are dead right is that I think the case that we have been making to the people obviously carried the support, and I hope that it will carry support with the Government as well.  People have a right to withdraw their labour.  Everybody understands that; that is a fundamental right of our system.  What they do not have a right to do is in a serial and vexatious way to cause strikes that achieve nothing, nothing for their members and which simply put the public at great inconvenience, and that is the problem of allowing strikes to be treated with such low thresholds in the balance.

If the Lib Dems are blocking this reasonable and hugely popular measure then at least let this explanation be made clear.

The good news is that even without this change Boris will still be able to bring in the important change of driverless trains. Driverless trains aren't halted by strikes.

Richard Tracey: In the light of Londoners’ recent endorsement of your policies, will you push ahead with the introduction of driverless trains on the Tube as quickly as possible?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The answer is yes, we will go forward with the next generation of Automatic Train Control (ATC) trains, and TfL will be pursuing all the advantages that new technology can bring, because that is what Londoners want.

Richard Tracey (AM):  Mr Mayor, this is of course a most important subject for Londoners and given the fact that there are I think now 30 cities in the world using Automatic Train Control, and given the fact that that well known newspaper of research, the Guardian, in a poll, showed that a majority of people favour Automatic Train Control, can you tell me when we will this happen?  Because the timetable is the important thing.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  I was amazed in the election that the Labour campaign was against ATC, I thought that was completely wrong, and we will go forward with it.  This is the most important thing, I think there is a misunderstanding about this. It will be greatly to the benefit of London Underground (LU) workers and to our staff.  It will be something that will increase capacity, it will make the system better, it will create more job opportunities actually, rather than less, because it will enable us to expand the Tube at lower cost, and I think it is the way forward for the City.

Richard Tracey (AM):  But there are, I think, three lines capable of Automatic Train Control now and there will be, what, two more in the next couple of years.  So can I have the date when it will happen, Mr Mayor?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  I can tell you that 48% of the Tube will be capable of ATC operation by 2014; that is only in a couple of years’ time, and then, in this four year period, what I can tell you is that we will buy plenty more new Tube trains, but I will not buy any old fashioned Tube trains.  It is time to move on, but the most important thing we can do now is take our staff with us, and I am very confident that we can do that.


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