Following TfL's offer to re-employ one of the two drivers at the centre of the dispute with the RMT and engage in further talks, the series of crippling strikes which was due to hit London from next week has been cancelled.
Whilst Londoners breathe a sigh of relief, this sorry saga does throw up some important questions:
- How can the RMT & TfL possibly work together long term? For an embarrassing period yesterday the two parties couldn't even agree if the strikes had been cancelled.
- With the lack of trust between the two bodies, what hope of an Olympic no-strike agreement?
- Can the Mayor's relationship with the Government recover? He's called them 'lily-livered' whilst Vince Cable has ordered the Mayor 'off his backside'. The context to this is the Lib Dem routing at the polls and the Mayor's desire to distance himself from Westminster, but the most recent language is stronger than a choreographed fight likely would be. Time to calm down, dear.
- Can a tightening of strike laws be achieved? The Westminster/City Hall ruckus will not aid the cause, and any attempts to tinker with industrial relations legislation will harm moves towards the, above and crucial, Olympic no-strike agreement.
- What power does TfL now have to sack workers who genuinely flout heath and safety or workplace guidelines? Will the RMT go to the wall over every case?
Finding an acceptable solution to the above requires a concerted effort by the Mayor, TfL and the Government. It seems that without them in concert London may be doomed to repeat this cycle time and time again.
The Mayor's first job must be to mend relations with the Government and RMT. At least from there a constructive dialogue - which this time he should lead personally - can begin.