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Tube workers' strike scores victory
A strike by 2,300 RMT rail union members who work for the failed Metronet consortium brought the London tube network to a virtual standstill last week. Nine out of the twelve tube lines were suspended, with severe delays on the three lines kept open.
By an RMT Metronet maintenance worker
We downed tools from 6pm on 3 September to begin three days of action over pensions, job losses and transfer of work.
By mid-morning on Tuesday, Transport For London (TFL), the administrators and Metronet management were begging for talks with the RMT to try and resolve our concerns. After nine hours of intense talks, the RMT delegation felt they had enough guarantees from management to recommend to the union's national executive to suspend the rest of the three-day action and place the assurances before a meeting of Metronet reps on 7 September.
Even though Metronet and TFL have stated that the assurances are the same as were on the table the previous week, this is clearly not the case. Metronet members of the TFL pension fund now have a full pension-scheme rescue package in place, not just vague promises.
As RMT general secretary Bob Crow stated: "This means that our members will now actually have their pensions restored to them, which is rather different than promises from a man in an expensive suit."
Further to the existing assurances of no job losses during the period of administration, we now have written commitments that any post-administration proposals will be subject to proper discussions through the existing negotiating machinery and the agreed code of practice. This means Metronet's threats of 700 job losses, which previously they would not fully remove from the table, has been withdrawn entirely.
However, some clarity is needed regarding the transfer of work guarantees, especially around the REM (Retained Employment Module) proposal which would affect our fleet maintenance members.
Until those issues are resolved, Friday's reps meeting and the union's executive have only agreed to suspend rather than call off any future strike action.
By standing firm, RMT members on Metronet have sent a clear warning that they won't be used as scapegoats for the shambolic mess that this government's tube Public-Private-Partnership is in.
RMT Metronet workers, along with their colleagues on Tubelines, want their work brought back in-house, under public ownership. Bob Crow correctly stated last week: "The dispute has underlined the need to bring the maintenance of London Underground back into the public sector, and that is what our members and the vast majority of Londoners want."
The privatisation of public services doesn't work. The NHS, education and public transport should be publicly owned and run. This is just the start of our fight to bring tube maintenance under public ownership.
In The Socialist 13 September 2007:
War and terrorism
Workplace news and events
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International news and analysis
Socialist Party review