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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Joined-up service

'A union has criticised plans to cut hundreds of cleaners' jobs on London Underground (LU). The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union warned one in four workers at a leading contractor face being laid off in the next few months.
It called on London mayor Ken Livingstone and LU to step in and halt the 200 planned job losses by Tube Lines contractor ISS. Tube Lines said it was "refocusing resources" for station cleaning.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said workers were "stunned and furious" when they were told their jobs may be axed. "There is no way that levels of station and train cleanliness can be maintained on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines with a loss of 27% of the cleaning workforce," he said.
"But there are also serious safety and security issues involved in cutting cleaning staff, not least at a time when tonnes of newsprint are being dumped in stations and on trains every day.'

Whatever you might want to think about Ken 'pickpocket' Livingstone and his infantile understanding of public finance economics, you really have to stop and question this kind of crap from those in public office. It's the kind of masterstroke of which the public relations industry in all its satanistic glory should be so proud...

I mean, by all means put the price of a single tube fare up to FOUR POUNDS (FOUR POUNDS!) if you so choose, you already know we can't do a damn thing to stop you, but unless you really TRULY want to mug off every single tranport-using person in London, don't for christ's sake then go and announce something like this two days later...


newtwatch said...

Ah, he's an easy target, is Ken. But you're being unfair.

If you look at the quote you've pasted in more closely, you'll see the change in cleaning arrangements is down to the PPP contractor. Bob Crow is asking Livingstone to intervene. Cos that's all he can do. He can't compel TubeLines to do anything unless service level agreements aren't met. Staffing levels of contractors are outside the remit of the Mayor and TfL.

Ridiculous? Yes. But that's what happens when you go the PPP route. Why did Ken do it then? After taking central government to court three times to try and stop them, he was compelled to accept PPP by the then transport secretary. He didn't think PPP was in the interests of Londoners and stood by his beliefs. He's since been proved right. But still has to work within the legal framework imposed upon him.

In short, you can't blame Ken for the contractors - he didn't want them, has little power over them but has to manage them. What would you do?

Here's some interesting background: hardly the actions of a man who has a puerile grip of financial affairs (his estimates are largely being proven correct),,836881,00.html

And four pounds on the Tube? Well, if you've got half a brain, you'll never pay four pounds on the Tube. It's a penalty for not using the multitude of prepay options easily available. These prepay options speed up entrance and exit from the transport system and are more keenly priced. What's not to like? If you pay over the odds, you've got no one to blame but yourself. It's no more than an attempt to penalise people who can't be bothered to take up prepay and are therefore slowing the system down.

And, yes, fares are on the rise - but that's in an attempt to cover years of underinvestment and get the system where it should be. Noticed the buses are a bit better? Tube stations being renovated? Where do think that cash is coming from? You can't have it both ways.

Truth is that the London Assembly has run well under Livingstone. Transport is a work in progress but there has been measurable success. The big test will be the Olympics, which has unravelled already. But Ken had put a 20% contingency in the budget. The Treasury - the department that runs our economy, don't forget - thinks that the budget they approved will be 60% short. The Olympic Delivery Committee, which created the budget think it's 40% short. Who's got the lesser understanding of money there?

Give him a break. Hell, give him a cuddle. You know you want to...

Jo said...

I know, I know. All points duly accepted, and for the most part I concede defeat. I'll hug the little beggar next time I see him. And I won't even dettol myself afterwards.

But you know, we're really going to have to stop arguing about this soon.

Mark Oaten, Thatcher and Ken: subjects that must never be discussed again, for the good of all...

CuddleKenToday said...

Whenever Ken's name is taken in vain, I will ride in on my trusty steed to his defence. It's only proper.

I'd still Dettol myself after cuddling him, mind. We've all heard the stories...