Socialist Worker

Tube picket lines defy bosses' plans

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2230

Students and workers join the tube picket lines on Monday of this week  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Students and workers join the tube picket lines on Monday of this week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Pickets braved freezing conditions on Sunday and Monday to show their defiance at London Underground management’s plans to slash jobs and safety.

Ten thousand members of the RMT and TSSA unions took part in their fourth 24‑hour strike this week.Once again their action brought much of the tube to a standstill and affected every line.

Students brought their spirit of resistance to a number of picket lines, boosting strikers.

At Mile End a delegation from the occupation at the University of East London (UEL) marched up to pickets in the early morning chanting, “Students and workers—Unite and fight!”

Students from Southbank university joined strikers at Elephant and Castle station, while University College London occupiers took solidarity to workers at Euston station.

Tim Mangan from UEL said, “The occupation voted to send a delegation to show our support for the tube staff.”

“Everyone’s being screwed,” added Xi-Mali Kadeena‑Guscoth. “The more jobs that are destroyed, the worse things are going to get.”

“Students and workers need to get together to fight the attacks,” said Mike from UEL.

Damage

Tube bosses want to cut 1,600 jobs across the tube network. This would damage staff and passenger safety, and hit the service, which bosses already fail to run at a decent level.

Management, with London mayor Boris Johnson full square behind them, want to break the unions.

This was clear during talks at the Acas conciliation service last week.

The RMT and TSSA tabled a new proposal that included a recommendation for the suspension of industrial action if management agreed to a 12‑week suspension of their plans to slash station staffing.

This would have allowed for a thorough station by station safety evaluation to take place.

Bosses rejected this.

They even stepped up the attacks on union members by sending out a reminder to all staff saying that the strike “may amount to a breach of contract of employment”.

But despite the intimidation, the strikes remain powerful and have rocked management.

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, says he will not recommend more strikes this year, but will look to escalating the action in the new year.

While talk of escalation is welcome, the delay could see momentum lost in the dispute.

Activists want further and longer strikes to beat the bosses back. A TSSA member said, “Management is still not listening.

“The unions should have called all four days of strikes together as it would have had a bigger impact.

“People have started to get letters from management telling them that they’ve been ‘displaced’.

“The bosses want to go ahead with all the cuts.”

An RMT member added, “The strikes have been effective but we should have escalated to 48-hour action after the first strike in September.

“Tube workers have the power to win.”


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News
Tue 30 Nov 2010, 18:17 GMT
Issue No. 2230
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