Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-437)|
WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2001
420. Through any restructuring.
(Mr Crow) There is conditions of service restructuring
going on all the time. What we are talking about at the moment
is protection of members' terms and conditions, which is what
our job is about. Our concern is that yes, we have three sections.
We have got TUPE which protects people's terms and conditions.
Chairman: Mr Crow, I am going to stop you there.
We do not have a lot of time. Did you wish to continue this line
421. No, that is very helpful. I just want to
ask one more question. Do any of the panel of witnesses think
that there may be tensions in the delivery of the PPP between
London Underground and Transport for London where clearly one
is in favour of the PPP and the other is not?
(Mr Rix) I think that would be quite obvious. The
Mayor of London has made quite clear what he believes should be
the direction of transport in London and London Underground as
a whole, so I would imagine that TfL with their statements and
the relationship between London Underground management and the
Infracos will be quite desperate at times. In certain circumstances
we have witnessed certain issues and indeed have seen certain
conversations or tales that have been told to us about certain
issues where perhaps relations are not as straightforward as they
Mr Donohoe: You have not given us an indication.
Do you support the Transport for London alternative proposals?
Miss McIntosh: Would it not be better to wait
for the answer before we move on because that is a slightly different
Chairman: I am in charge of the Committee. If
you will forgive me, I will take the Chair. If Mr Donohoe wishes
to put his question he may do so.
422. If not, how do you propose to improve the
maintenance of the performance of the network?
(Mr Rix) There are many issues that we have analysed
over the last couple of years and indeed we support many of TfL's
recommendations. Perhaps TfL and the Mayor and other people that
looked at the proposals have based some of their analyses on the
independent report that we published as trade unions into the
issue of funding for London Underground and how maintenance could
be undertaken. We have never had a dogmatic opposition to the
injection of private money into London Underground. What we believe
from our experiences with mainline railways and other privately
funded projects which have private control of these issues is
that that private money, that private expertise, is welcome to
come in. However, we are saying that it should be under public
sector management control so that it is directed into the industry.
423. Mr Rosser, I think you wanted to add something.
(Mr Rosser) Yes. Going back to the comment about tensions
between LUL and Transport for London, I make it clear that I have
no specific evidence to back up what I am about to say, but I
just suspect that we will find significant numbers of higher managers
within London Underground will not be around for too long after
Transport for London have taken over. Our concern on the Infraco
companies, the ones that will go if the PPP comes in under new
management, is that once again, after a relatively short period
of time, we may find perhaps numbers of the senior managers being
replaced by people from the new firms.
424. Are you basing this on evidence of something
that has happened before?
(Mr Rosser) It is based on what happened in some instances,
and I do stress the word "some", with railway privatisation.
425. So it is not an opinion; it is something
you have seen happen?
(Mr Rosser) No. It is particularly based on the obvious
friction that there is between the people at the top of Transport
for London and London Underground.
426. Why are you so sure that in terms of the
terms and conditions which you started on these would be better
protected under Transport for London?
(Mr Crow) What we have got at the moment with these
people is that if they transfer over into the PPP the main contract
which London Underground or TfL or the Government will sign with
the Infracos is written into the commercial contracts and is also
written into their contracts of employment.
427. Can I just interrupt you because I was
not wanting a negative about PPP. You have covered that adequately.
The question is why are you sure that your terms and conditions
will be unchanged or better protected under Transport for London?
(Mr Crow) At the moment we have pan-negotiations with
the company. One maintenance worker doing the same job gets exactly
the same conditions on one part of the combine as they do on the
428. Are you sure it will continue?
(Mr Crow) We are not sure it will continue because
we are going to have three sets of negotiations, four with London
Underground and five with TfL. What we are concerned about is
that because of the shortage of skills due to the recession you
could get people leaving the industry and as a result of that
you could get people doing the same job getting different rates
of pay and what you will see then is some people with skill shortages
leaving and others paying less to attract people to come into
the industry. That is what gives us grave concern.
(Mr Rix) Just to supplement that, there has been recent
evidence that while they are working in the shadow money they
have tried to introduce differentials.
429. Who is "they"?
(Mr Rix) London Underground and the Infracos. I am
sure you are all aware that a couple of months ago there was very
nearly quite a serious dispute on London Underground between my
members and the management. It was all to do with parity between
drivers who work on London Underground in the PSD and drivers
who work within the Infraco. We are witnessing a sea change in
the management's attitude towards these differentials between
different people that work for the Passenger Services Directorate
and those that work in the Infraco. That nearly led to a serious
dispute which was called off at the eleventh hour because some
common sense was brought into the negotiations.
430. This is directed to Mr Rix and the comments
he was making about private funding coming in under public sector
management. If we look back to the experience of the Jubilee Line,
what confidence do we have that if your view is right it would
be possible for a public sector London Underground to deliver
the modernisation programme we are talking about?
(Mr Rix) Let us be quite honest. The Jubilee Line
extension was rushed at the end of the day. Yes, it was over budget
in some respects, but that was due to
431. It was massively over budget.
(Mr Rix) So is CTRL, so is the West Coast main line.
These are all private sector operated and controlled.
432. Your conclusion is that no-one in the rail
industry seems capable of
(Mr Rix) Of budgeting correctly. I think that has
been seen with what has happened with Railtrack.
433. But in the case of the Jubilee Line it
is not just about
(Mr Rix) No, but the fact of the matter was
Chris Grayling: No, but can I make the point
434. You have asked the question, Mr Grayling.
Let us be original and let him answer it.
(Mr Rix) The fact of the matter was that there was
a Millennium celebration for the year 2000. There was incessant
pressure at the end of the day on the management to have that
extension brought into service. One of the issues was that there
is now a vastly inferior signalling system on that route because
it was to be brought in. I do not think many people have analysed
that. Yes, it was budgeted correctly; yes, there was a massive
overspend. The public sector management were pulling their hair
out as much as anybody else at how they were having to deal with
the contractors and things like that. I believe that lessons have
been learned and there are some realities now to be placed into
budgets and things like that. To be quite honest, at the end of
the day would you trust £13 billion of taxpayers' money to
be handled by the private sector after what we have seen on the
West Coast main line and CTRL and all the other expansion projects
in the private sector railway industry?
435. Mr Rix, we try and ask the questions rather
than let you ask them. I just want to ask you one thing before
I allow you to escape. What particular proposals would you make
to improve the performance of the network?
(Mr Rix) There are many things we can look into. There
is staff morale, there are issues about staff retention, there
are issues about treatment. Obviously it is about looking at a
public service. That is what London Underground is there for,
to provide a service. Due to the political uncertainty about the
ownership of London Underground, due to the constant changes in
management, due to the constant changes in certain techniques
and so on, there are so many projects taking place that I think
people are losing the plot about providing a service. We need
to get back to concentrating on some basics and then building
on that once you have got those building blocks in place. That
is one of the problems with performance and quite a number of
other issues, that most people are trying to do so many things
at once which they have to justify to Government or the PPP, they
have to justify to TfL in certain respects, they have to justify
the new training techniques and all the other things that I think
everybody is losing sight of the issue.
436. Does anyone want to add anything to that?
(Mr Crow) I just agree with everything Mick said and,
putting it in a nutshell, long term funding, CrossRail, the extension
of the East London line and a new Hackney-Chelsea line. That would
cause an improvement in performance.
(Mr Rosser) I would say regular investment flows,
not turning the tap on and off, which is a big headache for any
management if they do not know how much money they are going to
have, and consistency of policy towards London Underground.
437. Do you think the Health and Safety Executive
is right to accept version 3.0 of the safety case? Are you satisfied
now on health and safety?
(Mr Crow) Our representatives are not satisfied. All
three trades unions' representatives have written to the Health
and Safety Executive and to us and have told us they have not
(Mr Rix) To put it in a nutshell, that is in London
Underground's safety case. It is version 3.0. Version 3.1 is the
one that has to be done shortly and that has to go through the
Health and Safety Executive. Our safety reps have been in touch
with me. They are going to be raising their concerns and obviously
we will be presenting them to London Underground and the safety
authorities to see if we can make some adaptations to them.
Chairman: Gentlemen, you have been not only
concise but tolerant. Thank you very much indeed.