Socialist Party
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7 April 2010

London Underground workers balloting

At a mass meeting in London on 31 March the general secretaries of the RMT and TSSA, Bob Crow and Gerry Doherty, announced that these two rail unions would be holding a simultaneous strike ballot of London Underground workers.

Reg Johnstone, London Underground worker

This is to protest against 800 proposed job cuts by London Underground.

It will also be in protest against the closure of ticket offices. The opening times of ticket offices will be reduced by 2,000 hours a week across 278 stations.

A leaked document from London Underground management describes our workforce as "ageing and entrenched". This is the same workforce that has just earned the underground an award for being the best metro service in Europe.

'New blood'

Management want to get in 'new blood' and introduce 'new methods' - for that read get in new staff on worse conditions, and probably on temporary contracts. Management also want to use large scale redeployment and tube upgrades to drive out staff.

Health and safety regulations will be discarded and, disgustingly, they may attempt to force staff to work in unsafe conditions using disciplinary procedures if necessary.

The leaked document also suggests that management could look to engineer disputes and then use a dirty propaganda war to win the public to their side, while they sit out a long dispute.

This represents a major attack on a section of workers that have won, through industrial struggle, reasonable wages and conditions.

The conditions we have are the type of conditions all workers should enjoy.

Race to the bottom

If our conditions are driven down then it will be a race to the bottom for all workers in the capital and indeed the rest of the country.

The attacks on workers at British Airways and London Underground and the court decisions against Unite and the RMT are declarations of war against the trade union movement.

The TUC should respond by calling a mass demonstration. They should also begin the process of building support for a one day general strike against the proposed massacre of public services and against the anti trade union laws. If the TUC does not act then in the meantime an alliance of unions willing to struggle in a coordinated manner needs to be built.