Socialist Worker

Tube workers walk out to defend jobs

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2389

Pickets at Londons Elephant and Castle station during a previous strike

Pickets at London's Elephant and Castle station during a previous strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)


London Underground workers were set to strike for 48 hours from Tuesday evening of this week.

Tube workers’ RMT and TSSA unions are responding to an unprecedented attack from London Underground (LU) bosses. Bosses are attacking jobs, services and safety. 

A second 48-hour strike has been called to begin on Tuesday of next week.

One tube station worker told Socialist Worker, “They want us to go back to year zero when we had no agreements. 

“We can’t be the generation that loses the fight.”

Under new cuts proposals Tory mayor Boris Johnson—who is at the heart of the plan—wants to close all Tube ticket offices and axe nearly 1,000 jobs.

These cuts will make the Tube less safe. And having fewer staff around will make emergency situations all the more dangerous.

When Johnson was looking for votes in 2010 he claimed to care about this, saying, “Every station that has a ticket office will continue to have one.”

Now ticket offices are to close, almost 1,000 jobs are to go.

Workers are expected to reapply for their own posts, accept downgrading and attacks on their conditions and “flexibility”.

These changes represent just 6 percent of the cuts that bosses want to make, though they haven’t said what the other 94 percent will be.

Visible

Bosses say the changes will allow staff to be “more visible” on concourses and platforms and that this is all about helping passengers. Yet that can’t mask the fact there are going to be 1,000 fewer staff around to provide that help.

The changes have much more to do with turning Tube stations into “opportunities” for large retailers.

Bosses argue that unions are blocking their moves to “modernise” the Tube. 

They claim they’re creating a better service with trains running 24 hours a day at weekends.

Yet one station supervisor on the Northern Line told Socialist Worker, “We’re already ready for that. 

“We’ve been telling them for years they’re closing too early.

“Bosses say we have to accept the changes and ‘modernise’ but this is all about austerity and preparing the Tube for privatisation.

“The truth is Tube workers’ terms and conditions are too good for private investors. The object of this exercise is to break the union.”

When Tube workers struck in 2010, every day cost bosses £48 million. 

It is only hard-hitting strikes that shut down the network London’s economy relies on that can stop the bosses in their tracks.


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