Socialist Worker

Back tube workers’ fight for everyone’s safety

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2095

Major strike action by two London Underground unions is set to bring the capital to a juddering halt next week.

The RMT and TSSA unions have called three days of action that is set to begin at 6.30pm this Sunday 6 April and run to 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 April.

The strike is over safety and staffing issues.

RMT members voted by 83 percent to strike, while TSSA members had voted by over 81 percent to strike.

Management wants to close ticket offices, reduce staff, bring in lone working, introduce “mobile supervisors” and introduce agency and security staff into the workforce.

The strike will see joint TSSA and RMT picket lines for the first time in decades. Theirs is a crucial battle over the safety and future of the tube, which everyone should support.

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, spoke at a press conference on Friday of last week.He emphasised that the dispute is in the interests of the travelling public.

He said, “We are not prepared to see standards diluted on London Underground. While Transport for London announces that there are record numbers of people using the tube it is madness to reduce the number of staff.

“It is not safe for the travelling public. We need plenty of highly visible staff, which makes women, elderly people and people travelling at night more secure.

“The travelling public will support us when they see that we are taking action purely about the safety of them and the staff.

“Our tube drivers won’t feel safe when they pull into a station and there is a security guard there rather than dedicated station staff.

“Management wants to introduce ‘mobile supervisors’ responsible for several stations, who won’t have the same dedication to a single station.

“They are also trying to breach the custom whereby signal workers are promoted through the ranks.

“Now they want to bring in people from the street, rather than use the experience of staff. Transport for London is trying to save money as it is strapped for cash after the failure of the Metronet consortium. It is trying to cut the wages bill.

“There are negotiations ongoing between the unions and London Underground.

“But members will walk out unless an agreement is reached that is suitable to us. The RMT and the TSSA are standing side by side on safety.”

Other groups of workers are also moving into confrontation with London Underground management.

Over 2,500 members of the RMT working for failed private consortium Metronet are to be balloted for industrial action over outsourcing of work and the future of pensions and travel facilities.

The RMT has not won assurances that its members will not be transferred to other companies once Metronet is brought under Transport for London’s control.

Metronet workers struck successfully over these issues last year. The ballot closes on Wednesday of next week.

RMT members at the Tubelines private consortium are in dispute over a pay allowance.

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Article information

Tue 1 Apr 2008, 19:27 BST
Issue No. 2095
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