Socialist Worker

Go-slow to win safer rail for all

Issue No. 1879

TUBE WORKERS across all grades are to begin taking industrial action in a battle to restore safety standards following the imposition of the PPP privatisation scheme. The RMT union last week announced that 81 percent of its members had voted for industrial action and 55 percent for strikes over safety.

The result comes after five derailments over the last 12 months and soaring reports of safety concerns by staff. A recent opinion poll found 81 percent of Londoners back tube workers taking action over safety. The executive of the RMT was to meet on Thursday of this week to discuss what action to take following the ballots.

Health and safety union reps on the underground met on Monday and outlined the range of their concerns. 'The ballot was of all grades-drivers, station staff, signals and track,' says Unjum Mirza, an RMT safety rep at Mile End station.

'And the problems we are encountering under the fragmentation and privatisation of PPP affect all areas. There is strong support for imposing a go-slow over areas of track that are in poor condition. The preliminary findings into the derailment at Hammersmith found the track was in an appalling state. There's also a feeling that we won't be intimidated by management for taking a stand over safety on the line and in stations. We are prepared to take action if anyone faces victimisation.'

Activists and the union are also considering when to activate the strike ballot. The RMT has already run a publicity campaign over safety, and any action it takes is going to have major political repercussions.

It is the private managers given responsibility for the tube by Labour ministers who are refusing to implement basic safety measures the union is demanding.

TUBE DRIVERS in the RMT union at Edgware Road depot met this week to discuss what further action to take to win reinstatement for a colleague who was sacked for following doctors' orders.

A successful 24-hour strike two weeks ago shut the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines, which are operated out of the depot. The strength of the action caught managers off guard, but they have yet to shift over reinstating the driver, Chris Barrett.

Activists were discussing winning wider support for Chris across the underground and what form of action to take at Edgware Road, where RMT members have voted for strike action.

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Article information

Sat 29 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1879
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