Socialist Worker

Bosses threaten to use scabs on Tube and at BA

Issue No. 2187

Bosses and politicians are putting profits before safety in their attempts to crush two high-profile groups of workers.

They are determined to break trade unionists who dare to stand up against job cuts, bullying and dangerous cost-cutting.

Around 750 London Underground signal workers, formerly employed by Metronet, were set to strike on Friday this week (5 February). Other strikes are planned.

Socialist Worker has learned that bosses plan to recruit hundreds of agency workers to cover for strikers.

And they have contracted them for 12 weeks.

Is it any coincidence that after 12 weeks bosses can legally sack strikers?

The Metronet workers are fighting attempts to make weekend working part of their normal rotas. If the signal workers don’t win then

management, and London mayor Boris Johnson, will feel stronger to take on other groups on the Tube.

They have drawn up plans for £5 billion cuts that will see 144 station ticket offices close and up to 1,200 jobs cut.

At British Airways, bossesare out to smash the ability of the Unite union to thwart vicious cost-cutting. They ran to the courts before Christmas to get an unelected judge to block cabin crew’s 92 percent vote to strike.

Now, as over 13,000 BA workers vote again on strikes against attacks on jobs and conditions, management are openly recruiting scabs. And a fake “union”, the Professional Cabin Crew Council (PCCC) is telling workers to leave Unite.

The scab PCCC launched its website this week where it declares, “We are cabin crew who can recognise that the militant views of the 70s have no place in today’s environment. We are cabin crew who see the need to collaborate with BA.”

The company must be delighted! At a meeting with unions last week the bosses called for “new crew recruited on new terms and conditions into a separate fleet”.

Union leaders must not surrender. Everyone who wants to see stronger resistance to cuts and job losses and attacks on services has to support the Tube and BA workers.

These strikes can win. BA cabin crew forums reflect workers’ excitement.

“My ballot paper was out of the envelope for less than a minute, an X in the yes box, and now it’s heading back!” reads one post. “Nearly had the postman’s arm off!!” reads another.

Signal workers on London Underground are equally determined. One RMT member told Socialist Worker, “When Metronet went bust we were taken back in-house, but we have been treated like shit. We are going to strike every Sunday until we win.

“London Underground is being run by a group of people more interested in acting as bully-boys than in dealing with the union.”

Replacing highly skilled workers with agency staff raises health and safety questions for train drivers, other tube staff and the travelling public. Drivers should use their right to refuse to work on safety grounds.


Maintenance workers on the Jubilee Line have called off strikes after management tabled a new pay offer. The workers, employed by Alstom, had voted for strikes to close a pay gap between them and other maintenance workers on London Underground. The strike threat won a pay rise of nearly £3,000 a year.


The Unite union took BA to court on Tuesday of this week. It says that BA has broken contracts by imposing new working arrangements.


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Tue 2 Feb 2010, 19:19 GMT
Issue No. 2187
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