The Socialist 10 June 2009
Step up the fight for a new workers’ party
London Underground: Solidarity with strike over jobs and pay
TRANSPORT UNION RMT members on London Underground are taking strike action from 9-11 June. The decision has not been taken lightly. Many of us can ill afford to lose two days pay in these difficult economic times.
Reg Johnstone, RMT member
However the massive 'Yes' vote for the strike, for the second time, shows just how determined RMT members are to win a fair deal from London Underground management.
The 'Yes' vote was also achieved despite an atmosphere of harassment, aimed at union members by management. Our employers are trying to impose a multi-year deal which will mean job losses, cuts in pay and more draconian attacks on working conditions.
London Underground is cutting 1,000 jobs and Transport for London (TfL) may cut 3,000 more. LUL/TfL are pushing through an 'Organisational Change Process' which allows for compulsory redundancies. This breaches agreements signed with the unions in 2001 which guaranteed secure jobs.
If we accept these job losses we will be agreeing to throw our members on the dole during a recession. We will also be allowing our stations to be unstaffed or understaffed. This will affect the safety and level of service to passengers.
On pay, management wants us to sign up for a multi-year deal which does not keep pace with inflation.
They say our demands are unrealistic at a time of recession. However these same managers pay themselves huge salaries. 123 managers are paid over £100,000 a year, five 'earn' over a quarter of a million, and one 'earns' over half a million.
The employers' propaganda is that we are overpaid; however we have achieved reasonable wages by standing up and fighting for a decent living.
Management's intransigence is part of a broader campaign alongside Boris Johnson's Tory administration to break the RMT. They do not want to deal with a militant trade union that stands up for its members and acts as a beacon to other workers.
If our managers defeat the RMT, other employers will use that as a benchmark to push down wages and conditions in other workplaces.
During the strike our management is using untrained office staff to act as cover in the stations. This puts passengers in danger and also endangers workers in our sister unions.
We urge members of the public not to try to travel on the underground on the strike days and call on members of Aslef and TSSA to respect our strike and not to cross our picket lines.
THIS STRIKE raises broader questions. Management is trying to force through cutbacks in order to pay for the disaster that was the Metronet privatisation. This decision to privatise, in the teeth of opposition from Tube workers, ended with the collapse of Metronet. However, it is Tube workers who are being forced to pay for this blunder.
Although it is Tory Boris Johnson who now chairs the London Transport Authority, Metronet privatisation was brought in under Labour's Ken Livingstone, under pressure from Gordon Brown.
An RMT member comments on the effect of bullying management on London's tube system.
MANAGEMENT APPEAR to have given the nod to coordinated bullying and increased criminalisation of sickness through "Attendance at Work," thumbscrew policies which in effect oblige staff to work when sick and increase stress levels.
In an attempt to create a regime of fear, sick pay is blocked, managers spot fictitious "patterns" of non-attendance, paid emergency domestic leave is refused, future adverse weather absences will be unpaid, and trade union representation is denied.
Equal Opportunities policies (eg for parents) are meaningless when staff have the right to request flexible working only for the simplest of requests to be turned down time and again on the usually spurious knee-jerk grounds of "business needs."
Partly in response, RMT members on LUL and in TfL have backed industrial strike action in two ballots by margins of six to one. We demand a substantial one-year deal of a 5% increase, a £26,000 a year minimum wage, job security, genuine equal opportunities... and a climate of respect!
In this issue
Socialist Party election campaign analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party publication
International socialist news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs