Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 29 January 2014

Determined strikes can stop London Underground in its tracks

Bill Johnson

With the Olympics a fading memory, London Underground (LU) intends to implement the years of austerity that it had to forgo in order to keep tube workers onside for the games.

The consequences for staff and passengers are dire - 953 job cuts and every ticket office on the tube down for closure. Many workers face pay cuts of up to 10,000.

But LU's plans go much further than cost-cutting. Our boss is ultimately Mayor Boris Johnson and he is trying to position himself to lead a post-Cameron Tory Party.

Johnson hopes to defeat the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT) in the same way that Thatcher defeated the miners, making his credentials irresistible to the Tories.

Cameron's government is also keen to see a defeat for the union that is widely seen as one of the most militant in Britain.

Chancellor Osborne told journalists that he cannot believe his luck that there has not been a more determined trade union response to job cuts and pay restraint but he knows it is coming. A defeat for the RMT would, the Tories hope, discipline the whole working class.

Conversely many workers, whether unionised or not, will want to see RMT defeat Johnson and the Tories' austerity policies.

A public campaign, 'Hands off London Transport', has been launched and many passengers are expressing support to tube workers in stations.

It is important that this campaign focuses on winning support for the union's strike action. Only determined strikes can stop LU in its tracks.

It is important to build public support for the union, which will increase the pressure on Johnson but public opinion will not win this battle.

LU aims to implement cuts over a seven year period. This opens up the possibility of a protracted war with the RMT and the other tube unions, TSSA, Aslef and Unite.

TSSA voted to join RMT in dispute over the first of the cuts to be announced, on stations.

United fightback

It is essential that LU is not allowed to take on each section of its workforce in isolation. Given 4.2 billion of cuts are planned and the current proposals add up to 270 million, every grade of worker in every area of LU is under threat.

Only a united fightback can defeat Johnson and LU. A victory now for the unions could kill off LU's hopes of making the remaining cuts.

This dispute will be on a different scale to other recent disputes on the tube. The stakes are far higher and preparation for more prolonged and determined action is needed.

Members understand this, which is reflected in a bitterer mood, but also some trepidation. RMT is conducting local meetings and reps are visiting workplaces across the network.

This needs to be stepped up even further in the run up to strike action on 4 February. In particular national officers need to take a lead and help give confidence to members.

Developments in the past week have increased the chances of a strong show of support for the strike action by train drivers and other grades.

Information about a meeting where trainside managers were told about impending changes to drivers' contracts has leaked out leaving the drivers' union Aslef furious.

RMT represents many drivers but Aslef retains a small majority. Aslef members should be lobbying their union to join RMT and TSSA's dispute.

The involvement of all drivers would significantly swing the balance of forces towards the unions while Aslef would have a better chance of preventing the roll-out of attacks on their members by joining with the other unions now.

Engineers have also been threatened with 500 job cuts while both engineering members and those working directly for Transport for London (TfL) have been told that their pensions are under threat.

Pensions have the potential to become a major battleground in this war over tube funding.

Cuts avoidance

Talks are now at Acas but LU continues to pretend that it has not identified where 94% of its proposed 4.2 billion cuts will be found.

With the announcement of TSSA's yes vote for action more pressure than ever is on LU to start meaningful negotiations.

RMT has put a counter proposal to avoid job cuts and office closures. We have called on LU to campaign for a restoration of the government grant, to reverse outsourcing and to cap senior pay. These measures could save more than LU's plans without cutting jobs or services.

Until the current cuts proposals are taken off the table and LU commits to negotiate seriously, then not only will the strikes on 4 and 11 February go ahead, each for 48 hours, but further action will be called.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 29 January 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Recovery? More Tory Lies!

Brighton Green referendum offers no alternative to cuts

Landlords, the real beneficiaries of benefits street

Them and Us

International socialist news and analysis

Davos: World capitalism means increased inequality

New mineworkers' strikes in South Africa

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

We need councillors who stand up for us

Plymouth TUSC plans for 2014 elections

Stop London Underground cuts

Support the tube workers' strikes

Determined strikes can stop London Underground in its tracks

Socialist Party workplace news

University workers continue strike action over pay

Land Registry threatened with sell-off

PCS leadership elections

NUT activists meet to push for action

NSSN launched in south of England

Workplace news in brief

The Socialist readers' comments

Debate on the environment

A waste of a Friday evening

Fight all cuts!

Derbyshire: 'Old Labour' cuts hurt just as much

Carmarthenshire council rats

Spelthorne residents demand fire cuts are stopped

Leeds Labour breaks bedroom tax promise

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bakers union launches fast food rights campaign

Socialist Party Northern region conference


Home   |   The Socialist 29 January 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

London underground:

triangleJustice for Tube cleaners demo

triangleConference opens debate on Labour and pledges to fight anti-union laws

triangleTube strike at London Bridge over unfair dismissal

triangleWalkout on three rail networks against driver-only operated trains


triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: "You can't have capitalism without racism" (Malcolm X)


triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

triangleSalford Unison condemns pay cuts


triangleRMT strikes against removal of train guards spreads

triangleGig economy exploiter Uber loses London licence


triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers


triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate


triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP


triangleRMT wins important tube jobs and grading victory


triangleTravel chaos for Ryanair customers as airline cancels thousands of flights

Tube workers:

triangleTransport strategy: London's mayor is no visionary

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



Balloting members on the pay cap



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice