The Aslef Tube drivers’ union has called a fresh 24-hour strike for 5 August. This follows a united walkout by the Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite unions on Wednesday night and Thursday of last week that completely shut down the undergound.
Organised workers gave Tory London mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) bosses a hard slap in the face.
“We’ve shown we can give them a bloody nose,” RMT union rep and driver Tracy told Socialist Worker on the Brixton picket line in south London.
Driver and Aslef union rep Eddie agreed. “When we’re united, they can’t beat that,” he said.
Almost 1,500 traffic jams caused 761 miles of tailbacks. Bus stop queues were hundreds of people long in some places. And trains were delayed and crammed.
Johnson and the Tories had to drop their usual crap about strikes being ineffective. They were also quiet about ballot thresholds—because all the unions’ ballots blew them out of the water.
They want to focus the debate around money, to mask the new rosters they have imposed on workers for the Night Tube in September.
TfL bosses also want to divert attention from the £4.2 billion cuts they’re driving through.
Workers are concerned about the effect working unlimited weekend and night shifts on the Night Tube would have on them.
Eddie explained, “I’d be getting home for 10.30am in the morning on a Sunday. I wouldn’t get to see my kids, and my wife would be setting off for work early the next morning.”
Trade unionists brought banners from the local branches of Unison, UCU and NUT unions. The scene was replicated across London as strikers organised lively pickets.
There was live banjo and guitar music at Leytonstone in east London. And more than 30 workers from RMT, TSSA and Aslef picketed the Arnos Grove depot in north London.
Many of the strikers there said they had worked on the Tube for over 20 years—and said bosses hadn’t properly thought out their Night Tube plans.
RMT rep Wayne told Socialist Worker, “There are health and safety issues that haven’t been thought through. What about the fatigue for those driving home at the end of long night shifts?”
Under Johnson there have been 20 strikes in London transport. As with other public services it is under attack from the Tories. This is accompanied by an assault on trade union organisation.
RMT driver Micky told Socialist Worker, “We’re prepared to go out as long as it takes to resist Boris Johnson’s attacks. But we mustn’t deviate from this unity between the unions.
“No secret backroom deals that divide the Tube workers—we’re all out together.”
The sense of unity is strong and there is a thirst for even more as workers see the strength in numbers they have.
Aslef rep Jason said, “We need to be more coordinated in the future. We should be coming out with other public sector unions. The buses should come out with us too.”
Despite the severe disruption public support for the strike is high. Tracy said, “It’s been fantastic— much better than previous strikes.
“I think people are sick to the back teeth with austerity and everyone wants to see the Tories out.”
Unions stand in the way of the Tories’ assault on public services and the poor. That’s why they want to attack the right to strike.
The Tube workers have shown how we can take the Tories on.