Boris blasts union Luddites threatening UK business tourism
07-Sep-10by Annie Byrne
London Mayor Boris Johnson has slammed the RMT and TSSA rail unions' strike action, which some estimate is set to cost businesses in the capital £50m.As London commuters struggled to get to work on the capital's public transport system, the Mayor said the action was causing major damage to London's reputation as a business destination.Unions picketed over the loss of 800 posts due to new technology that management claims reduces the need for staff at Underground ticket offices. Transport for London (TfL) assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies failed to head off the industrial action, and more strikes are planned in October and November on the Tube system.Johnson this week told the Evening Standard newspaper the action poured salt into a wound already opened by proposals for Government spending cuts on London's beleaguered Tube network."I believe the vast majority of Londoners will see this strike for what it is, a trumped up and politically motivated attempt to have a pop at the Coalition Government," the Mayor said. "I believe most Londoners will support the large numbers of hardworking Tube staff who know that we need a safe, efficient and upgraded Tube, where we take the blessings and savings that come with new technology. Anything else is pure Luddism."Cuts arising from successful industrial resistance to change and progression on the Tube, noted Johnson, could have a lasting effect on London's standing as a destination for major international business events. He also underlined the need to "defeat the sceptics and ensure Crossrail is built"."I believe cuts would be disastrous for the London transport network. I cannot and will not accept them and am therefore fighting to preserve and improve our transport infrastructure."The prize is immense. If we can protect our funding...we can carry 30 per cent more passengers on the system," he added, highlighting the fact the programme would bring new trains, new track and new signalling and air conditioning on 40 per cent of the trains.The issue of cuts in transport investment and union trouble look set to dog the capital in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.