The Socialist 23 May 2012
Action now to save the NHS!
Interview with RMT assistant general secretary candidate
United struggle needed against train bosses
Steve Hedley is the London regional organiser of the transport union RMT. He was one of the trade unionists on the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition list in the London Assembly elections.
He is now standing for election as assistant general secretary of the RMT and he recently spoke to Sarah Sachs-Eldridge for the Socialist.
I believe London Underground (LUL) are recruiting a lot of new staff, after making cuts last year. What's really happening?
During the job cuts last year LUL got rid of 800 people, including a load of Customer Service Assistants (CSA). But they've had to do a u-turn on this. They've already recruited 300 new staff and we hear now that they're recruiting another 600. Our trainers have told us that they've been booked up solid just to do CSA courses. They've even run out of uniforms for them.
There were stations closing because they didn't have the staff to keep them open but with the Olympics they're panicking now.
What do CSAs do?
They work on the barrier to help people when they have trouble with their tickets etc. They help disabled customers and people with kids and anybody who needs assistance. They're also there to help to evacuate the station. They need to be there for an emergency.
This is a recognition of what RMT said at the time about the job cuts being dangerous and unnecessary.
You're now standing for election as assistant general secretary of RMT, which is a national position. How is the campaign going and what are you campaigning on?
The campaign is going well. 44 branches have nominated me. I'm standing because, even though I think the RMT is the best union out there, there's always room for improvement.
I think there should be coordinated strike ballots throughout all the companies to fight the cuts. This should be alongside a media campaign highlighting the danger to passengers of unsafe trains and unsafe tracks, lack of station staff and other health and safety issues. I think we should buy advertising space in newspapers to get this message across.
You've been travelling around the country. What have you found, speaking to RMT members?
Everywhere's the same. There's issues of contract labour being brought in. Companies want to save money by not taking on full-time workers. They're trying to casualise the industry. People are getting sacked for no reason and the train companies are trying to create a climate of fear.
We just can't stand by as a union and let our grades be picked off one at a time. We have to have a ballot across all the companies to stop this.
In this issue
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news