In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Transport for London is to place 7,000 staff on furlough to help safeguard its vital transport services.
Since London entered lockdown on 23 March, Tube journeys have fallen by 95 per cent and journeys on buses by 85 per cent. As a result, TfL’s main source of income has almost disappeared.
Taking advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme will enable TfL to access funding to support staff whose work has been paused because of the virus, saving the organisation an estimated £15.8 million every four weeks.
TfL has spent the last week assessing which roles within the organisation are suitable for the scheme, ensuring that all staff required for recovery planning and delivery are retained. 7,000 staff will be placed on furlough, for an initial period of three weeks. This represents around 25 per cent of the workforce employed. TfL will pay the remainder of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions, to ensure that people are supported.
Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic.
“We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but, nevertheless, the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90 per cent.
“We are now taking steps to use the Government’s Job Retention Scheme to further reduce our costs where work has been paused because of the virus, while at the same time supporting our staff financially.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, said: “Our reps have worked hard to ensure a fair and consistent approach is taken towards furlough at TfL and that no one is disadvantaged.
“We welcome TfL’s responsible approach to ensuring staff remain on full pay during this difficult period. We also welcome the introduction of better PPE, although this clearly needs to be kept under review.
“The importance of TfL to the successful running of London cannot be overstated. It is vital that adequate government support is provided to ensure our key workers can get around and to ensure that the operational grant that was stolen from Londoners by our current Prime Minister and the now editor of the London Evening Standard is restored.”