RMT Picket at Euston. Photo: Paul Mattsson
RMT Picket at Euston. Photo: Paul Mattsson

RMT in the Train Operating Companies

Some concessions achieved but more can be won

West Midlands RMT member

The railway employers have presented a new ‘dispute resolution agreement’ to the RMT rail union, in an attempt to bring an end to the long-running Train Operating Companies (TOCs) dispute.

The RMT leadership called off the last two strike days in anticipation of this ‘new’ set of proposals. However, despite a few small changes since the previous document, it remains a shopping list of our terms and conditions which the employers have been after for decades.

For example, while it seems that the intention to close every ticket office on the network has been deleted, the plans to introduce a new multi-skilled station grade remain, which will facilitate the future elimination of ticket offices.

While specific mention of Driver-Only Operation has been removed, the bosses’ big savings will be realised over coming years as new starters will receive reduced benefits, such as less annual leave and inferior sick pay.

Part one of the two-year proposal is a pay increase of the greater amount of either 5% or £1,750, for 2022-23. Part two is a further 4%, based on erosion of terms and conditions, the heaviest burden of all falling on new starters.

While the leadership can point to the fact that there has clearly been some movement on pay, and that the attacks on terms and conditions can be fought on a company-by-company basis, taken as a whole, this proposal remains a below-inflation pay deal with very serious strings attached.

General Secretary Mick Lynch has stated in an online members’ briefing that the leadership will be seeking feedback from branches and regions before making a decision on what to do next.

However, there is a very real danger that without a fighting lead from the National Executive Committee (NEC) combined with new strike dates, members can become demobilised and after ten months in dispute could look to take the ‘least worst option’.

Socialist Party members will argue to reject this offer and prepare for the national strike action necessary to win more. RMT should not settle for any deal which is paid for by future generations of rail workers. Our responsibility is to protect jobs, terms and conditions.

RMT fights pension attacks and cuts on London Underground

Socialist Party members in the RMT on London Underground

RMT members and reps on London Underground are considering our next steps in our dispute to defend jobs, pensions and agreements. London Underground management continues to implement massive cuts, demanded by the Tory government and passed on by the Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Transport for London (TfL) and the government published their responses to TfL’s pension review at the end of March. Both the government and TfL management say they can support transferring the TfL pension fund into the local government pension scheme (LGPS). This would mean tube workers facing increased employee contributions and losing around a third of our pensions, if retirement is taken at 60. There are many other detriments associated with transferring into the LGPS, including a shift of risk to employees in the event that the pension fund runs into deficit.

The risk to our pensions has driven six days of RMT strike action already, holding management at bay for a year, but now the risks to agreements on terms and conditions and job cuts is taking on a more immediate importance.

Reorganisations across London Underground’s engineering departments carry the threat of members being displaced into lower-paid roles, with only time-limited protection of earnings. Train operators have been asked to agree to extensive productivity measures that will casualise working arrangements and cut hundreds of jobs. On stations, management’s plan to cut 600 jobs is proceeding and the number of station closures, due to staff shortages, has exploded.

Further action will inevitably follow. The London Mayor has become nervous. He now says that pension reform, which was originally proposed by a committee he handpicked and commissioned, is not necessary. But these weasel words are not enough. He must decisively break with the Tory government attacks on tube workers and refuse to go any further with pension attacks. He should also refuse to make further cuts. He has delivered £400 million of cuts already but the government demands another £600 million.

RMT knows which side it is on and will fight to reverse cuts, win a realistic funding arrangement for TfL, and defend members’ jobs, pensions and agreements.