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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 798, 12 February 2014: Floods misery: Government cuts to blame

Search site for keywords: London underground - Unions - Trade unions - Strike - London - Cuts - RMT - TSSA - Boris Johnson - Bob Crow

Tube strike first round: Trade Unions 1 - Johnson 0

Kings Cross, 5.2.13, photo Helen Pattison

Kings Cross, 5.2.13, photo Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Paula Mitchell

As we go to press a second planned 48-hour London tube strike has been called off. The RMT and TSSA rail unions suspended their industrial action after London Underground (LU) bosses have been forced to partially retreat.

Until today London Underground bosses and Tory Mayor Boris Johnson have been utterly intransigent, refusing to desist from imposing their cuts so that meaningful talks could take place.

Now, as a result of determined strike action by RMT and TSSA, all aspects of the plan - which would mean the closure of all LU ticket offices and the loss of 1,000 jobs - are suspended for eight weeks.

The tube strike provided an important lesson for workers everywhere - the organised working class has power - and is popular!

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "After two days of intensive and detailed discussions through the offices of Acas we have now received proposals that halt the implementation of the job cuts which gives us the opportunity to discuss all of the issues away from the pressure cooker.

"We now have a golden opportunity to look again in detail at all of the concerns we have raised about the impact of the cuts on our members and the services that they provide to Londoners. That is exactly what we have been calling for throughout this dispute."

He said that the "RMT is happy to discuss any issues with LU through the machinery of negotiation" but correctly warned that strike action would be back on if there was "any further attempt to impose change from above".

Before the first 48-hour strike London Underground management boasted that they had volunteer 'ambassadors' lined up to break the strike and that a good level of service would run. This meant lots of people started out on a journey that rapidly became impossible.

The scene at Stratford, where 1,000 people stood in the rain outside a shut station, was replicated across London.

Everyone in London is affected by a tube strike. If the tube doesn't run, the trains, buses and taxis are packed, queues stream along the pavements and spill out into the roads.

Traffic in central London was at a standstill and pavements were crammed with people undertaking long walks. On this occasion this was all happening in very cold wind and rain.

Inevitably any dispute like this will be polarising, and London's transport system does carry some high-paid City types who are firmly on the bosses' side no matter what. But abuse was rare; it was much more common for people to approach the pickets to say "I completely support you" and even to bring donuts!

The reality is we're all under the cosh, whether that's from job cuts, pay cuts, benefit cuts, service closures, food and energy bills - and we're all watching the bankers get their whopping bonuses and the rich getting richer.

University workers, teachers, fire fighters, probation officers and civil servants have all taken strike action. Seeing this strike many of them will have thought: "This is what we all need!"

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