Socialist Worker

Bakerloo tube strikers put safety first

Issue No. 2061

Strikers on the Bakerloo picket line at Queens Park on Friday of last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Strikers on the Bakerloo picket line at Queens Park on Friday of last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

A strike by RMT rail workers' over safety on the Bakerloo line on London Underground severely hit services on the line on Thursday and Friday of last week. The strike lasted for 24 hours.

The 150 workers had voted by 95 percent to strike against plans to make workers 'detraining' passengers at the end of the line do it by themselves, rather than with another worker as happens at present.

There were solid picket lines at both Queen's Park and Elephant & Castle stations.

'This is all about safety – that of RMT members and the passengers,' Clive Prutheroe, the assistant secretary of RMT's Bakerloo line branch, told Socialist Worker.

'Management want to introduce a new timetable for detrainment staff. One staff member will be asked to deal with potentially violent and drunken people without any support, except for the driver. This is dangerous.

'The strike has been 100 percent solid. Some drivers in the Aslef union refused to cross the picket line. Management thought this action would be a wash-out, but we have proved them wrong.

'The union is now going to have a meeting to discuss the next step. If we call a second date management will realise they have to deal with us.'

Patricia McDaid, the RMT's health and safety rep at Queen's Park, said, 'I've been living in London for long enough to remember when there was no staff at stations. We don't want to go back to that. There is a strong feeling against lone working.

'Two people are needed at all times to detrain passengers – to provide customer service and safety. We might have to come out again. It would be nice to have action on the same day as the postal workers.'

Another striker told Socialist Worker, 'There is a strong feeling against this across the whole detrainment team. Management have a duty of care to look after staff and passengers, which these plans go against. This is my first picket line, but not my first strike.'

RMT calls protest over Metronet

The strike on the Bakerloo line took place a few days after the collapse of the Metronet consortium responsible for the maintenance and infrastructure of two thirds of the London Underground under Gordon Brown's Public Private Partnership (PPP). It ran up millions of pounds of debt and went into administration.

The RMT rail workers' union has called a protest demanding that Metronet is brought back into public ownership. The protest takes place outside 10 Downing Street at 2pm this Thursday 26 July.

The privatisation of London Underground and public services was a topic of discussion on the picket lines last Friday.

'Most RMT members have taken a 'told you so' point of view,' said Clive Prutheroe. 'The RMT has always campaigned against the PPP. We knew that the taxpayer would have to pay the bill.'

'There are a lot of very worried workers after the collapse of Metronet,' said Patricia McDaid. 'They don't know if they will have a job in the future or whether they will be working for the London Underground. This wouldn't have happened if Metronet had been kept in-house.'

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Article information

Tue 24 Jul 2007, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2061
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