Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/191/8084
Back the Tube Workers
LONDON UNDERGROUND workers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action against privatisation of the tube (PPP). Strikes involving drivers, station staff, signal and maintenance workers will bring the system to a standstill on three consecutive Mondays 5, 12 and 19 February. Management have run to the courts to stop it.
Bill Johnson, RMT member and London Underground worker
We are not prepared to accept the same compromised safety arrangements on the tube that have already wrought disaster and chaos on the mainline railways. We are also demanding that not one job is transferred to the private sector.
RMT voted nine to one in favour of the action while ASLEF members supported the strike call by two to one. This will be the first unified action by rail unions RMT and ASLEF for nearly ten years, giving massive confidence to union members.
The engineering firms getting the private contracts will make millions at the expense of workers and passengers. So let them pay the £8.4 billion needed to clear the underground's maintenance backlog. No privatisation, no bonds, just reverse the colossal tax cuts that mean firms in the City of London pay the lowest taxes in the developed world! Better still, nationalise the parasitical financial institutions so cheap finance can be used to regenerate not just the underground but all our railways and public services.
Livingstone's support for the strike action and Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley's opposition to the government's PPP scheme, will be welcomed.
Kiley has even said: "My view is that the tube will become a tomb if the public-private partnership goes ahead." But concrete alternative proposals from Livingstone and Kiley have been too close to the government's for comfort.
There is massive opposition to tube privatisation and the effect passengers know it would have on their safety. This opposition will increase once plans for a 40% increase in fare revenues and 5% reduction in target service levels are more widely known.
Socialist Party branches and trade unions should organise meetings to support the strike action, whilst Socialist Party members in the tube unions will argue for:
- Full government funding of London Underground.
- Safety and reliability to be the top priority, not profit.
- Not one job to be privatised and no contractors to be used for routine work.
- One unitary transport authority under democratic control to co-ordinate investment, safety and the service.
- Expansion of in-house maintenance. Take back previously privatised Northern and Jubilee depots under public control.
- Cheaper fares. Run the underground as a public service not a business.
- Re-nationalise all rail companies under democratic workers' control as part of a unified country-wide public transport system.
In The Socialist 2 February 2001: