Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/354/5854
Tube Workers Fight To Defend Jobs And Conditions
THE STRIKE action originally called on both London Underground (LUL) and Network Rail for 30 June has already forced Network Rail to re-open their final salary pension fund for new staff.
Bill Johnson, RMT London Underground
Thousands of rail union RMT members, who are due to be transferred from sub-contractors to the direct employment of Network Rail, will benefit from this. The Network Rail strike was called off and, although the details of the offer must be examined, this looks like an important victory for the union.
Now we must go on to defeat London Mayor Ken Livingstone, LUL management and maintenance company (infraco) Metronet who want to tear up agreements on working conditions and carry out a cull of station staff.
Up to 1,000 jobs will go on stations if Livingstone's productivity - in other words, cost-cutting - demands are met.
The union busting managers, O'Toole and Kiley, imported by Livingstone from the USA have looked at other workplaces in Britain and seen casualised workforces where workers are too afraid to stand up for themselves. They want some of that on the tube too!
But even a partial shutdown of the tube network costs millions in lost income for big business, especially in the City of London. Livingstone may not want to listen to us but he will listen to the bankers and millionaire financiers when they call him up demanding an end to disruption on the tube.
It is possible that one day of strike action will not be enough to win this dispute against a politically driven anti-union management. We must start raising the prospect of more prolonged strike action to defend our jobs, pay and conditions.
Massive job cuts
As long as massive job cuts and productivity demands remain on the table there can be no settlement. But as well as rejecting productivity demands we must keep sight of our own claim on pay and working hours.
Our demand for a four-day week would be welcomed by all tube workers and offers something to drivers as well as other grades. A definite date for the introduction of a 35-hour week for station and infraco staff is essential.
Many members of the other main tube union, Aslef will keep up the excellent tradition of solidarity that exists at many train depots. With the leadership of the Aslef engulfed in internal fighting (literally) members need to urgently take charge of their union's activity on LUL.
The London Transport Region of RMT has produced some excellent leaflets telling members about management demands for so-called flexible working and job cuts.
But this was undermined when the leadership agreed to general secretary Bob Crow's request to call off strike action on 10 June. The action was called off after management promised meaningful talks on pay. But the main reason for calling it off was to help Livingstone get re-elected as mayor.
But despite the delay to our strike action this is a dispute we can and must win.
In The Socialist 3 July 2004:
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and events