THE planned strike by train drivers in the ASLEF and RMT unions on London Underground was called off by union leaders on Thursday of last week just hours before action was due to start.
Drivers are confused about the deal. Union officials are claiming to have secured a 5.7 percent pay rise, while management are saying that they have conceded nothing. 'The strike would have been 100 percent solid,' said one union rep. 'People were really disappointed to have it called off at the last minute.' The deal promises that money will be provided to redress anomalies in drivers' pay.
But in return the tube unions are committed to talks on 'restructuring how driving is organised'. The unions came under massive political pressure to settle the dispute. The London Evening Standard ran a vicious campaign attacking the unions for striking 'at a time of international crisis'.
ASLEF responded by producing a four-page tabloid, No Evening Standards. This pointed out the hypocrisy of fat cat newspaper editors calling public sector workers greedy. New Labour is still pushing ahead with its plans to privatise the tube despite the failure of Railtrack. 'This isn't the end of the dispute,' said one ASLEF rep.
'Management have retreated a bit, but we are going to have to keep up the pressure on them and our union officials to make sure the deal is honoured. 'We can't let them get away with imposing strings when all we are asking for is what we are owed.'