Socialist Worker

Anger and disappointment as Tube Lines strike called off

Issue No. 2116

There was anger and deep disappointment among London Underground workers last week when the RMT union called off a strike by 1,000 maintenance workers at the Tube Lines consortium after a new offer from management.

The workers were due to strike for 72 hours over pay and conditions from Wednesday of last week. The strike would have shut down the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern lines.

It would also have spilled over to the rest of the network as the emergency response unit, which provides essential safety operations, would have been striking. Many tube drivers would rightly have refused to take trains out because of their safety concerns.

The potential power of the strike forced management to make a new offer of 4.99 percent this year, and a pay rise in line with the RPI rate of inflation plus 0.85 percent next year. There were also some concessions on travel and performance pay, but there are major problems with the deal.

The workers were originally offered 4.95 percent this year and RPI plus 0.75 percent next year. There is no movement on final salary pensions, which is a big issue for many workers. The deal only scraped through the RMT Tube Lines negotiations committee by a three to two vote.

Some in the RMT are organising to reject the deal and reinstate the strikes. Ned Quinlan, an RMT health and safety rep on Tube Lines, told Socialist Worker, 'Many people are really angry.

'Tube Lines didn't want to give us anything on pensions and it didn't want to go above 5 percent on pay. And it got all of that. But what did we get?

'This is not just a dispute about pay, it is also about better conditions. Loads of people are voting no to the deal and to get the dispute back on.'

Workers were dismayed that the RMT executive committee called off the strike without gauging the views of members and reps on Tube Lines.

'It wasn't nice to be having a Tube Lines union meeting to discuss the deal and then to have the news come through that the strike was off,' said Ned.

'The executive committee could at least have got the view of the reps before doing that. We can't let Tube Lines get away with this.'

There was anger and deep disappointment among London Underground workers last week when the RMT union called off a strike by 1,000 maintenance workers at the Tube Lines consortium after a new offer from management.

The workers were due to strike for 72 hours over pay and conditions from Wednesday of last week. The strike would have shut down the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern lines.

It would also have spilled over to the rest of the network as the emergency response unit, which provides essential safety operations, would have been striking. Many tube drivers would rightly have refused to take trains out because of their safety concerns.

The potential power of the strike forced management to make a new offer of 4.99 percent this year, and a pay rise in line with the RPI rate of inflation plus 0.85 percent next year. There were also some concessions on travel and performance pay, but there are major problems with the deal.

The fact that the strike was called off left the strikes at East Ham group and the Charing Cross group isolated.

A strike by Tube Lines' workers could have won a lot more from management than was offered last week, and also pushed back the bosses' offensive against the RMT across the tube.


Strikers demand reinstatement of Jerome Bowes

Some 100 tube workers at Elephant & Castle, Charing Cross and Lambeth North struck on Friday of last week for the second time to demand the reinstatement of Jerome Bowes.

Jerome, a station assistant, was sacked for defending himself against an assault from a member of the public on New Year's Eve. 'The strike has been very well-supported,' Malcolm Taylor, a local RMT rep, told Socialist Worker.

Jerome told Socialist Worker, 'I feel emotional when I think of the support I have got from my colleagues. I have been branded as 'aggressive' and I'm not that kind of person.'

Jerome now faces an Employment Tribunal on 16-17 September and drivers are to be balloted to join the action.

The need for properly trained station staff was seen on Friday evening as 23 passengers were trapped in a lift for an hour and a half at Elephant & Castle station.


Station staff at the East Ham group struck at 11 stations on the District Line on Friday of last week over the sacking of Sarah Hutchins, the stopping of pay and the intimidation of staff.


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