Low-paid TfL contract staff to get free travel across network | UK cost of living crisis

Low-paid cleaners, catering staff and security guards at Transport for London will be given free travel on the network because of the cost of living crisis, Sadiq Khan has said.

The London mayor will officially adopt the scheme, which has been piloted with cleaners, and expand it to cover around 5,800 workers.

The concession, funded by City Hall, will be available to the lowest paid transport contract workers, most of whom are on the “London living wage”, from April. Staff directly employed by TfL already receive free travel across the network.

“London’s transport workers continue to play an essential and much-valued role in keeping our city’s transport network safe and operational for millions of people every day,” Khan said.

“The cost of living crisis shows no sign of improving, and I want to do everything I can to support those in lower paying jobs who are being hit hardest.

“With so little action from the government I’m pleased that I can help ease the pressure for lower paid transport workers such as cleaners, catering and security staff who do such a vital job for the capital.”

The mayor, who is expected to seek a third term in 2024, said he would prioritize helping Londoners with the cost of living. His office said measures already included more than £50m to tackle fuel poverty through a Warmer Homes program and energy advice services, £5m for welfare advice and £400,000 to tackle food insecurity.

The TUC’s regional secretary for London, Sam Gurney, said the change was welcome. “It will help a large group of key workers on our transport system, including the thousands of cleaners we all rely on to keep it safe,” he said. “It’s a great example of unions working together with the mayor to improve conditions for hard-pressed Londoners. We will continue to support moves to build on this by bringing these workers back into direct employment.”

A Labor source said: “This shows the difference between Labor and Tories in power. Sadiq is helping the lowest paid workers with free travel, while the Tory government are threatening to sack public service workers who are relying on foodbanks for simply asking for wages they can live on.”

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Khan faced criticism earlier this month for a rule change to ax free travel for over 60s before 9am on weekdays, a restriction introduced in June 2020 but made permanent last month. The change will generate an expected £40m extra in fares.

Fares will rise by an expected 5.9% from March across TfL services, including the London Underground, the Overground and Elizabeth lines and Docklands Light Railway.

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