Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/24184

Posted on 9 January 2017 at 12:45 GMT

Pickets at Barking station, 9.1.17, photo by Pete Mason

Pickets at Barking station, 9.1.17, photo by Pete Mason   (Click to enlarge)

London tube strike solid in fight for jobs and safety

The strike of 4,000 station staff between the 8th and 9th January brought London to a standstill on a very busy back-to-work day when up to 4.8 million passenger journeys would have taken place in the capital.

This was a pivotal moment for station staff, who showed their power as a section of workers. It is testament to the fighting strategy of the RMT, whose actions brought over the rank and file TSSA reps and members who revolted against their leaders who had attempted to do a shabby deal with the strike busting mayor Sadiq Khan.

Many train drivers also quite rightly refused to drive their trains on the grounds of safety, as stations, the few that were open, were staffed by untrained and unqualified and unfamiliarised staff.

This strike, on top of the successful overtime ban, which highlighted the dangerous understaffing of the tube and closed over 80 stations when staff refused to work rest days or overtime, will give confidence to this section of workers to take more action if necessary.

RMT & TSSA strike, 9.1.17, photo Helen Patisson

RMT & TSSA strike, 9.1.17, photo Helen Patisson   (Click to enlarge)

Mayor Khan instead of condemning strikes should find the money to fund the hundreds of extra frontline jobs that are necessary to staff the underground, which carries more passengers than the combined numbers of all Britain's other rail networks.

A salary cap of managers at 100,000 a year instead of the 600,000 that some off them get would be a start.

Bringing cleaning and engineering back 'in house' would also save millions. The underground is very soon going to have its subsidy removed, which would make it the only major metro in the world unsubsidised, this must be reversed.

Indeed we call for an increase in funding to provide a fully staffed, fully publically owned service, which would provide a cheap and safe underground for the people who use the service.

John Reid, outgoing RMT Executive Member

Leytonstone

Picket line at Leystonstone station, 9.1.17, photo Isai Priya

Picket line at Leystonstone station, 9.1.17, photo Isai Priya   (Click to enlarge)

Going along to the picket line at Leytonstone station was energising and inspiring. We listened to station staff explaining their experiences and their reason for striking. The drastic cuts to station staffing on the Underground have resulted in many stations being closed and some very busy stations left running without any staff.

This is causing disturbances to travellers and puts their safety at risk. It is also overworking the very limited staff and they are put under huge pressure. They are told last minute where to drop off the keys to the station because there is no one else to replace them, they are forced to stay behind, and worst of all some of them are left alone to run a very busy station. This puts their safety at risk as well as travellers' safety.

But these workers - in the unions RMT and TSSA - have had enough. They have been pushed to the limit and by striking they are showing the government, the London mayor and Transport for London (TfL) the dangerous route the London Underground service is being taken through.

TfL has enough money to be able to sufficiently staff all stations but it is choosing not to do so. Instead it is wasting money covering gaps in staffing with 'hastily briefed' managers who get paid three times the rate of station staff.

There are some tube managers who earn up to 600,000 a year. The workers told us that some of the top managers' bonuses are more than the workers' annual salaries. The RMT is suggesting having a cap of 100,000 for the wage of senior TfL managers.

The strikers that we met understand that the cuts in station staff are not an individual issue, that the government is attacking all workers and vital services through its austerity plans. However, bosses might think they have power, but the strike today shows once again who has the real power. When RMT members don't go to work - nothing moves. Imagine if NHS staff, teachers, the transport workers and others go on strike together - this pro-austerity Tory government can be brought down and we can fight to improve services and conditions for all workers.

Isai Priya
Northfields picket,  with Rob Williams from the NSSN 9.1.17

Northfields picket, with Rob Williams from the NSSN 9.1.17   (Click to enlarge)

Barking

Pickets at Barking train station gave out 1,000 leaflets to C2C rail commuters this morning who, with one or two exceptions, fully understood that the strike is about their safety and their service. As Colin Hall, Barking station rep, explained to the Socialist:

"I think people have had enough of austerity. They realise we are all workers together. There's not enough staff on the underground to keep it safe and that's what we are proving. We've proved it today because the service has shut down.

"Before 'Fit for the Future', station staff industrial action didn't stop all services but now, after 'Fit for the Future', management can't run the train service safely and that's what we've shown today".

Pete Mason

Victoria

Closed tube stations, 9.1.17, photo by Helen Patisson

Closed tube stations, 9.1.17, photo by Helen Patisson   (Click to enlarge)

Having walked passed numerous closed tube stations, I found a lively picket line at Victoria station of around 20 workers from RMT and TSSA.

One striker told me that while working alone on New Years Eve she was sexually assaulted by a passenger. Having another member of staff at the station could have prevented the assault. These are the dangerous conditions that underground staff find themselves working in.

Another striker explained that many stations are operating below minimum staffing numbers and of the staff that are there many are from a new lower grade and are not trained in safety to the same level as before. There was fear on the picket line about what could happen if the station needed to be evacuated.

Many picketers wanted to discuss mayor Sadiq Khan and his disgusting comments on the strike. One said she had never had faith in Khan to be a different kind of mayor to Tory Boris Johnson.

Another striker had hoped Khan would end the staff shortages and reverse the negative impact of 'Fit for Future' plans. He said that while Boris Johnson is gone, London still has a mayor who attacks the trade union movement and strike action.

It is now clearer than ever to workers in London, particularly those on the underground, that Sadiq Khan is not a mayor who will stand up for them or for a safe and well-staffed transport system.

Helen Pattison

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 9 January 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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






Related links:

London:

trianglePicturehouse strikers stage lively demo

triangleMarch against Racism demonstrations

Strike:

triangleMixed Fleet cabin crew announce more strike days

triangle13 million-strong Italian general strike

Jobs:

triangleWhat we saw

triangleTata pension deal: 'Gun to the head' offer accepted

Workers:

triangleCelebrating May Day

RMT:

triangleRMT plans protest against 'driver only' Merseyrail trains

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

28/2/17

Salford

Corbyn-supporting mayor oversees cuts to vital services

28/2/17

Sheffield

Sheffield meeting against cuts

28/2/17

Russian revolution

Meetings on the 1917 Russian Revolution

27/2/17

London

Picturehouse strikers stage lively demo

27/2/17

Protest

RMT plans protest against 'driver only' Merseyrail trains

27/2/17

British Airways

Mixed Fleet cabin crew announce more strike days

27/2/17

Grantham

Grantham: 1,000 march for reopening of A&E

27/2/17

Leeds

Leeds: Protest against tip stealing

24/2/17

Spelthorne

Needed: socialist councillors

22/2/17

Bristol

Bristol: Hundreds march against council cuts

22/2/17

Fighting Fund

A world to win - give us the resources!

22/2/17

Leicester

Leicester Unison no-cuts budget call

22/2/17

Trump

Socialism not Trumpism: Thousands more protest and plan to walkout

22/2/17

Union

Workplace news in brief

22/2/17

Unison

Unison Women's Conference

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

triangle28 Feb Corbyn-supporting mayor oversees cuts to vital services

triangle27 Feb Picturehouse strikers stage lively demo

triangle27 Feb Mixed Fleet cabin crew announce more strike days

triangle24 Feb Byelections: Break with Labour Blairism wasn't on offer

triangle24 Feb Needed: socialist councillors

triangle22 Feb Support the NHS? Join the march!

triangle22 Feb Thousands more protest and plan to walkout

More ...

triangle28 Feb Bristol Socialist Party: February 1917 Russian Revolution

triangle28 Feb London Socialist Students: How is the Russian Revolution relevant to LGBT+ liberation?

triangle28 Feb Manchester Socialist Party: Where does British capitalism come from?

triangle28 Feb Birmingham South East Socialist Party: The Battle of Cable Street

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice