Socialist Worker

After unions suspend walkouts - strikes have the power to stop Tube cuts

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2390

RMT union members picketing at Lambeth North station

RMT union members picketing at Lambeth North station (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The RMT and TSSA unions suspended a strike on London Underground on Tuesday of this week as Socialist Worker went to press. 

This followed a solid 48-hour strike last week.

After talks with London transport bosses the TSSA first called off their action saying it had “agreed a process where all our serious concerns over safety and job losses can be addressed”.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow later confirmed the union was suspending the strike after receiving “proposals that halt the implementation of the job cuts”. 

He also said the union was going into negotiations over the “impact of the cuts” while “London Underground would put on hold” all voluntary redundancies.

Without the solid action last week bosses would have simply imposed the closure of all ticket offices with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

But there is no guarantee that jobs will be saved—and workers could have won their demands outright.

The strike hit bosses hard. It closed 43 stations including major central hubs. Just 30 percent of tube trains ran on the first morning of the strike, and London’s roads were clogged with packed buses and extra traffic.

Failed

Yet the Tories and right wing media failed to pit passengers against workers.

A poll of Tube passengers on the eve of the strike showed 65 percent believed strikers were justified. A similar number expressed concern about the cuts.

The strike piled pressure on Tory London mayor Boris Johnson. Acton Town RMT member Sharon Collow said, “Boris said he wouldn’t shut any ticket offices.

“He also said he wouldn’t shut the fire stations—but he’s lied on both counts.”

Many drivers are in the Aslef union, which did not back the strike. But pickets at Barking station told Socialist Worker that several Aslef drivers refused to cross the picket line.

One driver on the Jubilee Line explained that “rank and file tube workers are organising on a workplace basis to solidify the fight”. 

Now there is anger at the union suspending action just as bosses were on the back foot.

“The stakes are high,” London Bridge RMT member Lynda told Socialist Worker. “Our first strike was solid and the bosses struggled to cope.

“We’ve shown our power. We need to keep organising as these talks could go nowhere. 

“If the bosses, with Boris Johnson at their back, want a fight then the unions should escalate the strikes to beat them.

“We can win this.”


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