The 48 hour strike by maintenance workers on the London Underground (LU) last week was fantastic. Staff working for Tube Lines carrying out maintenance work on the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern lines were striking over jobs, working conditions, pay and parity with Metronet LU workers.
The action by RMT union members caught management on the hop. They attempted to get a high court ruling against the strike but failed.
The strike was solid, with a large number of pickets at many depots, and union organisation has been strengthened as a result.
Workers on the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), who deal with accidents and urgent repairs, were on strike. This meant that many drivers refused to work on safety grounds. On the Piccadilly line in particular there were numerous cancellations and at one point a train only ran every 40 minutes.
Rank and file Aslef union members did not drive any of the engineering trains during the strike—costing management millions of pounds.
There are serious concerns about the qualifications of those who worked on the ERU during the strike, staffing levels and competency in emergencies.
The success of the strike has shown Transport for London (TfL) and LU what they are dealing with. The next action at Tube Lines is set for 48 hours from 7pm on Wednesday 14 July.
If we don’t get a better offer, Tube Lines workers will step up the action—and by then it will be under TfL. Just as in 2007 when a strike brought Metronet to it’s knees, the current strikes have hammered the final nails into the coffin of the public private partnership.
Management has since withdrawn a three year pay offer including a 4.2 percent rise for 2010. No matter. The offer was rejected unanimously by reps. We realise the real fight is over jobs—what use is 4.2 percent when you are jobless?