Socialist Worker

RMT beats back the privateers on London tube

by Frank Murray RMT rep, technical officer, Communications and Engineering branch
Issue No. 2047

The front page of the Evening Standard newspaper on Friday of last week said it all – “Tube Strike: Bosses Cave In.” The editorial was headed, “RMT 1, Tube 0.”

This was a major victory for the RMT rail workers’ union. Our threat of three-day strike action by 2,000 London Underground maintenance workers that would have begun last Sunday forced the private consortium Metronet into a dramatic about-turn.

Metronet covers all but three lines on the underground. It wanted to further outsource sections of our workforce to Bombardier.

The agreement means that all posts and individuals under threat of transfer will now remain in-house.

Escalator refurbishment will be brought in-house and Metronet will enter talks aimed at bringing cleaning contracts and lift refurbishment back in-house, as well as ending all biometric booking on and off.

Since privatisation and the introduction of the Public Private Partnership (PPP), workers have seen continual attacks on our rights, and the corrosion of passenger rights as the cost of travel increases.

Serious dent

The majority of the travelling public is against privatision of the underground. Workers have seen the fragmentation of our workplace, and a deterioration in worker and passenger safety.

Numerous agreements had been reached with Metronet, but they have reneged on them.

We have seen the consortium try to hive off a part of the structure to make it more lucrative for a particular partner. Bombardier wanted the opportunity to grab the fleet engineering department.

Balfour Beatty was waiting to grab the signal and track section with EDF and WS Atkins picking up what’s left.

Our victory marks the first serious dent in the PPP and hopefully the beginning of a revolt against privatisation. The solidarity from train operators and station staff was essential to our victory.

While we’ll justly celebrate our victory, we have more work to do to take on the fat cats within and outside the industry.

We have a fight against mayor Ken Livingstone’s plans to privatise the East London Line.

We also need to link up with other workers who are fighting privatisation and Gordon Brown’s 2 percent pay cap for public sector workers.

May Day presents us with the possibility of uniting our struggles. We will offer solidarity to the 250,000 PCS members on strike on 1 May – you should too.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 17 Apr 2007, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2047
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.