Sadiq Khan has promised to stop future strikes on the London Underground as the capital faces a new spate of industrial action on the network over the Night Tube. Labour's Mayor of London candidate said he would stop the walkouts by negotiating directly with Underground unions; the RMT, Aslef, TSSA and Unite.
"There have now been more than twice as many strikes under Boris Johnson than in the previous eight years," Khan observed. "It proves once and for all that the Tory strategy of refusing to negotiate or even meet with the unions makes strikes more likely not less."
He added: "It would be exactly the same under Zac Goldsmith – both he and Boris are more interested in scoring political points than stopping strikes. Londoners need both sides to talk and resolve their differences. As Mayor I will make this happen and stop strikes on the Underground."
Khan's campaign claimed, based on Freedom of Information requests and London Assembly answers, that there have been a total of 35 strikes under Johnson, compared to 16 under Ken Livingstone. Johnson has so far avoided getting directly involved in previous talks between Underground management and the unions.
Khan's pledge comes as Aslef, the tube drivers' union, is expected to announce a new set of strikes on 11 January. The move is in protest over proposed pay and work conditions on the 24-hour Night Tube, which was meant to launch in September 2015 but has been delayed due to the industrial dispute.
But, as Mayor Watch has noted, Livingstone generally took the same approach as Johnson by not getting directly involved in negotiations between the parties.
2016 Mayor of London election: Latest poll
Khan: 45%, 55% (first and second round)
Goldsmith: 35%, 45% (first and second round)
Source: YouGov for LBC Radio
Fieldwork: 1,156 people between 4 and 6 January
A source close to the union told IBTimes UK that Aslef is not looking to orchestrate the strikes alongside the junior doctors' strike being organised by the British Medical Association (BMA). The RMT, which represents workers and drivers on the network, will also decide whether to strike when the union's executive committee meets on 11 January.
Transport for London alleged Aslef was attempting to derail the Night Tube. "Our four-year pay offer is extremely fair. As a result of hiring new drivers, who will be on permanent, part-time contracts with the same rates of pay and the same benefits as existing drivers, we've made absolute guarantees that no current driver will have to work the Night Tube unless they want to," said Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer for the Underground.
"This total protection of work-life balance is precisely what Aslef leaders asked for, so it is astonishing that they are now once again threatening strike action.
"The truth is that they are making excessive demands for more money, fewer hours and a four-day week and expect fare and tax payers to pick up the bill. That is the real reason they plan to disrupt Londoners. No employer could possibly meet such demands and strike action will change nothing. There is no more money."