Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14406
Tube Lines - Striking for equality of rights and against privatisation!
"A fight for equality that all Londoners have a stake in supporting" - Alex Gordon, RMT president and lead TUSC candidate in GLA election
"This dispute is so important because of the threat of privatisation" - Steve Hedley, RMT London regional organiser and assistant general secretary candidate, also TUSC GLA candidate
Since 4pm Tuesday 24 April, 1,000 maintenance workers employed by Tube Lines have been on a 72 hour strike. As Tube Lines rep Paul O'Brien explained (see below), this strike is about getting all workers the same rights as far as pensions and travel passes are concerned.
Rob Williams, Socialist Party industrial department
This strike is in everyone's interests because the history of two-tier working in other industries shows that, if the bosses get their way, we all end up on the same tier - the worst one!
Of course, why would management be holding out if they didn't have re-privatisation up their sleeve? The disasters of PPP - Tube Lines/Metronet as well as Railtrack - shows that the railways and the Tube can't be run by the privateers. That argument was won in 1947!
But this doesn't matter to Prime Minister David Cameron or London Mayor Boris Johnson. It's all about easy, risk-free profits for the fat cats, paid for by the workers who keep the lines running.
This strike has already shown that RMT members have the power to win. Already stoppages have been recorded on the Northern and Jubilee lines.
It is in all RMT members' interests to have a rock solid strike this week, with a strategy to escalate perhaps over weekends, which will threaten the planned engineering work as the Olympic clock counts down.
Already over the last year, the RMT union has won significant victories in terms of pay, Olympic payments and the reinstatement of victimised Tube drivers Eamonn Lynch and Arwyn Thomas.
These were won through a serious strategy of strike action, prepared to escalate and involve at times increasing numbers of LU workers. This method can win another victory now.
Paul O'Brien, RMT Tube Lines council rep at the protest outside the company's office in Canary Wharf as the 72-hour strike started on Tuesday:-
Q - Is one of the motivations behind RMT calling this dispute the fear of re-privatisation of Tube Lines?
A - We've been given three options that will happen to us by October 1st. One is that we are taken in-house within LUL (London Underground) - excellent.
The second one is that we remain as we are - not so good, because it would be a further watering down of the rights that we were TUPE'd over with.
And the third option is that we get re-privatised. And that's our biggest fear because this would not be like the PPP privatisation because there we had the whole of the Underground and the majority of public support behind us.
This option would mean that we could be privatised like any other firm would be, and under TUPE rights, pensions would not be covered by that.
So even the 40% of us who currently are in the TFL pension scheme would probably have that dropped as well.
So we are fighting for everyone's rights here today, not just those who have travel passes and pensions, but the majority who don't.