Socialist Worker

If tube workers win, we all win

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2221

Union activists at Alstom meet outside Golders Green station to discuss their next step  (Pic: Smallman )

Union activists at Alstom meet outside Golders Green station to discuss their next step (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Tube workers are gearing up for a second 24-hour strike from Sunday evening in their battle for jobs and safety on London Underground.

This follows the powerful strike by RMT and TSSA union members’ four weeks ago. The strike had a huge impact and brought much of London Underground to a standstill.

The strength of the walkout rocked bosses, who want to cut 800 station staff jobs.

This will hit safety for passengers and staff. Managers also want to slash 500 jobs at the Tube Lines engineering section and push through new rosters.

The effects of management’s plans are already being felt. The RMT this week has accused London Underground of running trains that have not been inspected properly.

Train brake blocks, cab equipment, chassis brackets and other critical equipment are supposed to be inspected at 14-day intervals.

But the union has evidence that due to cost-cutting trains that have not been inspected for at least 22 days have not been taken out of service—as operating rules stipulate.


The RMT also said bosses were continuing to open under-staffed stations in breach of safety rules.

Everyone should get behind the tube workers battling to defend public transport. They are involved in a major fight, which will help determine the future of London Underground.

A victory can lift the fight against cuts everywhere.

Management and the unions know the stakes are high and are mobilising their forces. Bosses are preparing a scab force to staff stations during the strike.

The unions’ overtime ban and work to rule are having an effect, with staff shortages leading to some stations being closed. Engineering workers refusal to do extra hours meant that major engineering work across the capital was cancelled last week, costing Transport for London millions.

But crucial to winning the dispute is increasing the power of the strikes. This means extending the pickets and action to areas that were weaker during the last strike, and intensifying the strike itself.

“To win, we will have to take more than 24-hour strikes at a time,” said an RMT union activist. “We need another solid strike this time so that we will be in a stronger position to extend the next round of action to 48-hours.

“We should also be arguing for coordinated action with the firefighters who are currently balloting for strikes over attacks on their rosters. This will require urgent organising at head office and grassroots levels.

“That joint action could shut down London until we win.”

Station staff, drivers and other grades are to strike from 6.29pm on Sunday while engineering workers in the former Metronet section are to down tools from 7pm.

More 24-hour strikes have been called for Tuesday 2 November and Sunday 28 November.

Alstom workers set to join fightback

Two hundred train maintenance workers employed by Alstom will add to the impact of the tube strikes when they strike over pay from Monday evening.

The RMT members are in dispute after being offered a 2 percent pay deal—despite Alstom making huge profits.

Alstom workers maintain trains on the Jubilee and Northern lines. They held a previous 24-hour strike four weeks ago.

They also had a protest meeting outside Golders Green station on Tuesday morning against management’s refusal to allow the RMT to meet members on the premises without a manager present.

The Alstom strike begins at 7pm on Monday of next week, and runs for 24 hours.

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Article information

Tue 28 Sep 2010, 18:03 BST
Issue No. 2221
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