Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 September 2009

Significant victory for tube workers

RMT wins no compulsory redundancy position but future battles loom

London Underground (LU) has retreated in the face of RMT's strike campaign. They have guaranteed that no RMT members will face compulsory redundancy as a result of the underground's current cost review and organisational change programme.

An RMT member

Earlier in 2009, 3,000 workers received 90 day redundancy notices, warning them that their jobs were in danger of disappearing. LU stated publicly that around 1,000 redundancies would be required to cut costs after LU bailed out the failed privatisation (PPP) of Metronet, the private company created to run LU's engineering and infrastructure operations.

The dispute hinged on LU's refusal to recognise an agreement made with the unions in 2001. That agreement clearly stated that no employee of either LU or Metronet could be forced into redundancy. The agreement had been demanded by RMT (and Aslef - although that union has not been prepared to defend the agreement) because tube workers knew that PPP would lead to job losses and cost cutting. With no justification whatsoever LU has argued that the agreement is not applicable to the current situation.

While LU will not accept that redundancies are impossible under the 2001 agreement, they have now agreed that no RMT member will be forced into redundancy under existing proposals. This represents an important victory for all tube workers and should encourage the wider trade union movement.

Many high profile struggles during 2009 have necessarily been limited to winning redundancy payments for workers who've been made redundant through bankruptcy or plant closures.

The RMT, on LU, has achieved an impressive result by preventing compulsory redundancies in the current situation.

In spite of this, some activists have been calling for RMT to strike again until the employer concedes that redundancies cannot take place 'in principle'. Members of left groups including the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) have been arguing that if one tube employee faces redundancy then RMT has a duty to strike - even if that employee is not an RMT member. The SWP now appear to have pulled back in response to the agreement reached but reality has not been allowed to divert the AWL from its stand.

The argument of these lefts is rooted in a mistaken assessment of the impact of the current economic downturn. The downturn has undoubtedly set back the ideology of capitalism but this does not automatically give confidence to workers to strike over pay and conditions.

RMT members on the tube were prepared to fight to prevent compulsory redundancies but once it was clear that RMT members' jobs were safe a further strike would not have been as successful as the action in June, which shut down 80% of services.

In the future, if the other tube unions make an appeal to the RMT for support against attacks on their members, then the RMT should give them that support.

Also it is inevitable that LU will come back at some point with new proposals to cut jobs and RMT will have to face up to this and be prepared to strike again. But trying to have that battle now, when the immediate proposal is for no compulsory redundancy of an RMT member, would be naive in the extreme and potentially lead RMT into a defeat.

It is important that tube workers see management's failure to establish compulsory redundancies in practice as the victory for the workforce that it is.

RMT members should be proud of the action taken and members of other tube unions should ask their own leaders why RMT was left to fight the redundancies alone. After this result confidence should be boosted, not chipped away by misconceived talk of defeat.

The issue of pay and management abuse of disciplinary procedures remain areas of dispute. None of the unions that represent members on the tube have agreed the wholly inadequate offer of 1.5% this year and RPI plus 0.5% the next.

RMT is now discussing with the other unions and further talks at ACAS (the conciliation service) are planned between LU and all the unions.

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

In The Socialist 9 September 2009:

One million unemployed young people: 'We demand real jobs!'

Youth Fight for Jobs action

Youth unemployment: Future jobs or fake schemes?

War and occupation

Bring the troops back now!

Trades Union Congress

TUC conference: Workers willing to fight - in spite of leadership

Socialist Party TUC meeting

No to bosses' agenda

Time to fight back!

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Workers' action can stop NHS cuts

PCS members prepare to fight cuts and privatisation

Unite election: United Left hustings

Witch-hunted Unison member given extra charge

Construction workers protest

Inaugural meeting to establish a North Wales branch of the National Shop Stewards Network

Socialist Party trade unionists meeting

Postal workers strike

Postal workers national ballot: Vote 'yes' for strike action

Protesting against scabbing managers

RMT action

RMT action: Bus workers strike for pay rise

Vestas workers: Stop the blades

Comment: Vestas protest

RMT wins no compulsory redundancy position but future battles loom

Marxist analysis: history

Marxists and the Second World War

International socialist news and analysis

Return of al-Magrahi to Libya ignites a political storm

Northern Ireland: Councillor joins Socialist Party


Failing academies

Socialist Party review

City of Life and Death


Home   |   The Socialist 9 September 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Compulsory redundancy:

triangleCollege workers ballot for action in Nottingham

triangle"Disgraceful" treatment of sacked EHRC workers

triangleBBC journalists to strike on Friday

triangleManagement forced to retreat

triangleRMT cannot accept compulsory redundancies


triangleAnti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

triangleNationalise rail now

triangleVirgin train workers vote for strike action over pay

triangleVirgin train workers ballot for strike action

Tube workers:

triangleTransport strategy: London's mayor is no visionary

triangleLondon Underground: RMT wins victory


triangleBrighton victory

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts


triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution


triangleArriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

London underground:

triangleJustice for Tube cleaners demo

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers


North West

Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise


Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents



Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell



Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos



Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts



Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated



Bradford campaign to save children's services launched


South London

South London health bosses' cover-up



Unite day of action against blacklisting



Brighton victory



Newham anti-academies strikes


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting



Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout



Unite protest against blacklisting

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

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

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

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



December 2017

November 2017

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