Socialist Worker

London Underground offer rejected as privateers in crisis

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2159

A mass meeting of 160 RMT union reps on London Underground on Monday of this week overwhelmingly voted to reject management’s latest offer to resolve their dispute over pay, redundancies and management bullying.

Union activists are now discussing setting more dates for action to win their demands.

A powerful strike by thousands of RMT members severely hit the running of the tube network last month.

This forced management to come back to the negotiating table and make a better offer.

Instead of a five year pay deal, they offered a two year deal with 1.5 percent this year and 0.5 percent plus the RPI measure of inflation next year. If RPI is negative this would be a 0.5 percent rise.

Management also agreed to abide by the agreement they had made with the RMT and Aslef unions in 2001, which guaranteed against compulsory redundancies.

However, they believe that this does not cover managerial, administrative and technical staff, while the union says it does.

London Underground and Transport for London (TfL) want to slash thousands of jobs as part of their cost-cutting measures.

Despite management’s concessions, there was a clear feeling at the meeting that the offer was not good enough.

Unjum Mirza, the RMT’s political officer for the London Transport region, told Socialist Worker, “If we put on more action we can win this fight hands down.

“Activists will be putting in the work to ensure this is as strong as last time.

“We should also be looking to taking strike action with the postal workers in London.”

The Unite union is also to ballot its 600 members on the Tube for action over the pay deal.

The collapse of the Metronet consortium, which carried out maintenance work on two thirds of the underground network, is one of the root causes of the system’s current financial woes.

This was taken back in-house in 2007 but its failure could cost up to £410 million.

Now Tube Lines, the other public-private consortium that has the contract for the repairs and refurbishment of the Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee lines, could also be in trouble.

It wants to cut £2 billion from its estimated costs of £7.2 billion over the next seven and a half years. This would mean a significant scaling back of its planned works and threaten jobs.

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, said, “This row all stems from the botched privatisation of the tube and it is not out of the question that we could see another failure similar to Metronet.

“Our advice to Boris Johnson and TfL is to seize this opportunity to get rid of Tube Lines, take these works back into direct public control and work out a funding programme which protects jobs and the upgrade programme.”

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Tue 7 Jul 2009, 18:50 BST
Issue No. 2159
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