The campaign by the RMT transport union against the victimisation of Andy Littlechild, a union rep at the Metronet maintenance company, has forced management into a climbdown.
Andy was suspended last month on what the union calls a “bogus charge”. Some 2,500 workers at Metronet balloted for strike action over this and other issues.
Facing a charge of gross misconduct, Andy received a final warning at a disciplinary hearing on Monday of last week.
Management then pushed through an appeal the following day at which Andy’s punishment was downgraded to a suspended hearing.
This was a clear victory. It was almost certainly a recognition by management of the severe effect a coordinated strike by tube and bus workers, which had been planned for Wednesday of this week, would have had on the capital’s transport system.
The union needs to organise for the key battles to come on the tube, particularly over pay next year.
The bosses across the country in every sector will continue to try to pick off key activists to weaken the unions.
There is also a danger that union leaders could use the economic crisis as an excuse to back down from action at crucial junctures.
Activists need to build the strength of rank and file workers to counter this.