Socialist Worker

Driving towards strike action on the London Underground

by Unjum Mirza
Issue No. 2035

The RMT rail workers' union is set to ballot its 6,500 members on the London Underground for strike action over last year's pay deal. The ballot will close in mid-February.

Management tabled a five year pay deal which the union whittled down to three years. However, the offer still falls well short of the RMT's claim.

The RMT submitted a claim for a substantial pay rise over one year in April 2006.

Management's current offer is 4 percent for year one and RPI plus 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent for years two and three respectively. Management have also added strings to years two and three.

These include mayor Ken Livingstone's promise of running the tube half an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays from May 2007 and draconian attendance and disciplinary procedures.

All the unions have accepted management's offer of 4 percent for year one. We argue that this should be paid and backdated to April with immediate effect. As for the rest, we can continue talks.

While we are not in principle against the later running of the tube for Fridays and Saturdays, we are concerned that the tube is to open an hour later the following morning. This will hit essential workers like nurses and cleaners.

Any agreement will have to involve compensation for drivers – stations and signal staff have already agreed to later running and received compensation – and certain prerequisites such as door to door taxis to get staff home.

Increasingly members are becoming aware that the pay dispute is political.

Livingstone is looking for industrial peace in the run up to the 2008 London elections. He also wants to weaken the RMT before the 2012 Olympics.

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, said, 'Management can avoid action by paying the increase that is due to our members. But they should understand that RMT members are prepared to defend the gains they have made.'

The RMT also plans to ballot 400 signallers and supervisors in Scotland for action over a 35-hour agreement.


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News
Sat 27 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2035
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