London Underground maintenance, upgrade and emergency workers employed by Tube Lines started a 72 hour strike yesterday afternoon (Tuesday).
The strike has already led to disruptions on the Northern Line. Workers have refused to cross picket lines and some drivers are refusing to operate their trains on safety grounds
Strikers gathered at 4pm outside Tube Lines’ headquarters on Westferry Circus. Jason Cullen is a Tube Lines worker and RMT union rep based at Stratford. He spoke to Socialist Worker about the issues behind the strike.
'This dispute is about inferior terms and conditions for Tube Lines workers. There’s a two tier system at Tube Lines. Some workers, like myself, are protected by TUPE regulations and get Transport for London pensions and travel passes. But many of my colleagues don’t get any of that.
Maintenance and upgrade work is physically demanding. People work shifts, at night, in adverse weather conditions. Lots of people break down physically and suffer from ill health. Life expectancy isn’t that great.
That's why pensions are so important to us. What keeps people going is what they get at the end for putting all that effort in—a decent life with their families.
We’re striking for 72 hours. During that time signals, tracks and train infrastructure won’t be maintained.
The Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is also walking out. Without the ERU it is not safe to run the system. I expect that as the information filters through to the train drivers you’ll see more of them taking a stand and refusing to work on health and safety grounds.
At the end of the day this is all about privatisation, about lining the fat cats’ pockets. Management say there's a recession on, but they're still making money. Fares are up, passenger numbers are up and revenue is up.
At the same time they’re dragging staff levels down to a minimum. And when you’re doing a job like this under stress safety is going to get compromised.'
Look out for further web updates on the Tube Lines strike. For full coverage see next week’s Socialist Worker.