Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 April 2007


Union militancy pays

London underground

London underground

THE LONDON underground system almost closed down for three days last week as Metronet tube maintenance workers, members of the RMT union, prepared to strike. They were determined that their jobs would not be outsourced to other companies resulting in worse conditions, which Metronet had originally pledged not to do.

Such was the workers' determination to fight this attack with a strike and overtime ban, led by a fighting leadership, that Metronet not only backed down but agreed to bring escalator refurbishment back in-house, to discuss bringing back cleaning contracts and lift refurbishments in-house, and discuss ending biometric clocking on and off.

This was not only a victory in stopping new attacks on underground workers - when victories are not that common at present - but this threatened action forced Metronet to reverse previous outsourcing, showing what can be achieved with a determined fight.

"Our Metronet members deserve congratulating for standing solidly together to defend their organisation, jobs and conditions and to prevent further dangerous fragmentation," RMT leader Bob Crow announced after Metronet caved in.

Such a result answers those within the trade unions who say there is no mood for action. It shows that victories can be won against outsourcing and other attacks on workers' conditions.

The civil servants' union, PCS, has also shown how a left, fighting leadership can give confidence to workers to take action where necessary to force concessions on pensions, jobs and services. Once again PCS members are striking - this time on May Day, 1 May.

While chancellor Gordon Brown has thrown down the gauntlet of a pay freeze for public-sector workers, few unions are prepared to fight back, but the PCS is a notable exception. UNISON and other public sector unions should unite with PCS against the pay freeze and other attacks.

Contrast the attitude of RMT and PCS leaders with the analysis of Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, when commenting on the closure of the Peugeot car plant near Coventry, which moved to Slovakia: "We could have gone on strike, but it would not have made any difference. We could have sat in the plant, it wouldn't have made any difference." (Interview in The Times 12/03/07).

He counterposed the idea of a global union to a 'here and now' battle to save jobs. In reality an occupation of the plant could have brought about real international solidarity and a serious struggle from the union.

Give a fighting lead

In the largest teachers' union, too, the NUT, Socialist Party members reached the conclusion at the recent NUT conference that "many of the NUT tops, from both left and right, fear that members will not respond to a call for national action." Socialist Party teachers, on the other hand, called for national action over workload and new regulations that will worsen performance pay, a call that has received widespread support from classroom teachers.

Where unions give a fighting lead, as with the RMT and PCS, or with local trade union struggles such as the Whipps Cross hospital workers, Glasgow council workers over 'single status' and Visteon car parts workers (all with local Socialist Party members playing a key role) - then victories can be achieved.

This is also how the trade unions can be re-built, as more workers will join unions that are fighting their corner and achieving results.

In order to build a fighting leadership in all unions it is crucial for socialists to come together within the unions. The success of Left Unity within PCS, with Socialist Party members at its core, has shown how a union can be built to defend its members.

The NEC elections presently taking place in UNISON and PCS are an opportunity to elect fighting leaders. Six Socialist Party members are standing for the UNISON elections and ten for those in PCS, alongside other lefts. These are important elections and part of the campaign to create trade unions that will defend workers from the continuing onslaught on pay and conditions.

The Shop Stewards Network founding conference on Saturday 7 July will bring together trade union activists from around the country where all these issues can be discussed.

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

In The Socialist 19 April 2007:

Kick big business out of the NHS

Nurses' fury at cuts and attacks on jobs

NHS London - delivering private health

Socialist Students

Build for national action against fees

Socialist Party election campaign

Election manifesto 2007

Leicester: A principled stand against opportunists

Young socialist standing for Save Huddersfield NHS

Wales manifesto launch

Save our NHS campaign fields five candidates in South Lakes

Nursery cuts campaign launch

Making a difference in Lincoln

Vote Socialist Alternative on 3 May

Socialist Party editorial

RMT victory: Union militancy pays

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Wanted - a new mass party for workers

Campaign for a New Workers' Party Conference

Socialist Party workplace news

Tube workers win big victory over Metronet

Campaigning for a 26,000 minimum wage

Young trade unionists reject New Labour

Greenwich UNISON steps up fight against pay cuts

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela: Will the trade unions give up their independence?

Bush's man at the World Bank in corruption scandal

Socialist Party news and analysis

Bosses' Pension

Blockading Britain's warhead factory

Fighting for the right to walk in the countryside

Cuts reduce advice for the people who most need help

Bank that only serves the rich


Home   |   The Socialist 19 April 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleNHS - build the fightback

triangleNHS we're ready to fight

triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

triangleVictory for school cleaners!

triangleNHS: use the 3 February protests as a launch pad for a mass movement


trianglePCS executive agrees next steps in pay campaign

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

trianglePCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


triangleLondon Underground signals victory

triangleJohnson's Prince of Darkness


triangleCaerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: 100 years of votes for women

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: 100 years since women won the right to vote

Socialist Party:

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: Organising tenants in the private rented sector


triangleMerseyrail protest


triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now


triangleThreat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

London underground:

triangleJustice for Tube cleaners demo

Bob Crow:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil youth march for justice


Foreign Aid

Oxfam scandal: we need democratic aid and working class solidarity



Building support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections



What we saw: Tory-Blairite EU love-in



Rent doubles in a decade: cap rents, build council homes!


Public ownership

McDonnell says Labour would put services 'irreversibly' in workers' hands



We can win the fight for the NHS



NHS - build the fightback



Corbyn's left must seize the advantage in Labour's civil war



Haringey: now's our chance for a no-cuts council



90 feared dead after migrant boat capsizes



Capita in crisis: bring all outsourcers back in-house



Trump v NHS



NHS: use the 3 February protests as a launch pad for a mass movement



Capitalists fear for their system at Davos

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018