New tube strike next week
LONDON TUBE workers were set to hold their third one-day strike next week against the impact of New Labour's proposed privatisation scheme. The RMT rail union has called the official strike, beginning on Wednesday evening and reaching a peak on Thursday.
Activists in the train drivers' ASLEF union are preparing to deliver maximum solidarity by refusing to cross picket lines. Such action by ASLEF members ensured that the last one-day strike in March was totally effective. A series of rank and file meetings has built on that. RMT members voted by 12 to one for strike action after a High Court judge forced the union to reballot.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott is increasingly desperate to end the row over tube privatisation. Twelve of Labour's most marginal seats are in London, and three quarters of voters oppose the tube sell off. London mayor Ken Livingstone has launched legal action to stop privatisation. The case is due to be heard in June.
Tube workers and passengers cannot wait that long, or hang on the whim of another High Court judge. The two previous tube strikes were popular. The tube unions should be calling more sustained action.
ASLEF and RMT members on London Underground were also to begin voting this week for strike action over the lack of rest facilities.
GUARDS ON South West Trains have voted for strikes on Thursday of next week and the following Friday. The company runs services from the south coast and West Country into London's Waterloo station.
The first strike, by 700 guards, is scheduled to coincide with the tube stoppage. The RMT union is campaigning nationally to retain guards on services.