Socialist Worker

Tube strike can beat the bosses

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2461

RMT pickets at Lambeth North station, south London, during the Tube strike last year

RMT pickets at Lambeth North station, south London, during the Tube strike last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)

“There will be no Tube service from late afternoon on Wednesday 8 July and no Tube service at all on Thursday 9 July,” Transport for London (TfL) announced this week. 

This is due to a 24-hour walkout by all four Tube workers’ unions RMT, Aslef, TSSA and Unite, set to begin at 6.30pm on Wednesday of this week.

Four million daily Tube passengers will be affected, with 11 lines and 260 stations closed. 

One Brixton Tube driver told Socialist Worker the mood in the depot was “electric” as the strike approached.

“That’s because we’re united and all out together.”

Bosses have no answer to a strike of all grades and all unions. It shows the power of organised workers to lead a fight against austerity. 

Bosses are trying to impose worse conditions for workers as part of their plans for Night Tube operations in September.

Being forced to potentially work an unlimited number of weekends or nights is another huge issue for workers. So is this year’s derisory pay offer.

Talks fell apart when unions rejected bosses’ “final offer”. After months of nothing bosses gave the unions one afternoon to consider it.


London RMT said it was “divisive, cynical and an insult to every one of us”.

“We don’t accept ultimatums,” said the Tube driver. “We need to maintain the unity of the workforce across the Tube.

“And we must not allow our union leaderships to entertain management attempts to divide us on the basis of grade or the union badge worn by workers.”

The last strike of such strength was in 1989.

Then it started unofficially, and involved all Tube unions alongside strikes on the buses. Now Unite, the main union on London’s buses, has a live pay dispute and faces calls to come out alongside any further Tube walkouts.

The fight on the Tube isn’t just about TfL. It’s about a Tory government going to war with the unions, determined to drive through cuts and privatisation.

TfL bosses and the Tory London mayor want compliant workers and weak trade unions to push through more attacks such as the ticket office closures that began this year. These have made it harder for passengers including disabled people to get help when they travel.

It is crucial that the unions’ determination continues to match that of the bosses who are driving through their Tory agenda.

Resistance is Underground

Three other RMT disputes on London Underground were set to see industrial action this week.

Station staff are also striking as part of the 24-hour walkout over the loss of 800 jobs.

Workers are to be more “flexible” and sent to work anywhere on the network at 24 hours notice. An increase in lone working will also pose serious safety implications.

This has a wider significance because it shows the bosses’ vision for the whole Tube network.

Train maintenance workers planned to begin an overtime ban in a row over bosses use of agency-employed workers. 

And Jubilee Line workers were set to take action over imposed changes “to decrease safety checks”.

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