Socialist Worker

Tube strike can halt the greedy bosses’ attacks

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2465

Trade unionists bring solidarity to south Londons Brixton picket on the last strike

Trade unionists bring solidarity to south London's Brixton picket on the last strike (Pic: Guy Smallman )

A strike by workers in all four Tube unions was set to bring London grinding to a halt on Thursday of this week.

The planned 24-hour walkout by the Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite unions, set to begin on Wednesday evening, would be their second in a month. They totally shut down the Tube network when they last struck on 9 July.

One Tube driver from south London told Socialist Worker, “Nothing moved at all. We made sure there was a total shutdown—and we’ll do it again.”

Workers got a sense of their power and feel they can beat the bosses’ attack. He said, “Everyone is up for the fight—the mood is totally solid.”

Unfortunately Unite missed an opportunity to call its members on London buses out on the same day. They are in dispute over wages.

Tube staff have already faced major job losses due to Tory mayor Boris Johnson’s ticket station closures.

Now bosses’ plans for the Night Tube next month would see them forced to work a potentially unlimited number of weekend or night shifts.

This assault on pay and conditions would have a major impact on workers’ social lives and families.

Workers have also raised serious concerns about what making drivers work such long hours would mean for health and safety. 


London Underground (LU) management thought they could force the unions to back down, just like they did during the station staff dispute in 2014.

But this walkout involves all grades on the Tube from drivers to maintenance and station staff. 

Bosses sent seven drivers home last week for refusing to take trains out on health and safety grounds. 

The Aslef and RMT unions had told members not to drive trains that weren’t “subject to safety checks” in the previous 24 hours. The seven have since returned to work.

Unions rejected an insulting last ditch offer at talks at conciliation service Acas last Monday.

LU bosses offered a 1 percent pay rise and a £500 one-off payment—down from 2 percent and £2,000 in the previous offer.

The offer didn’t address the new shift patterns, and night shift payments are limited.

The  Tube driver said, “Management just tried to repackage the last offer, but it’s actually worse. 

“They were trying to make us fight among ourselves. They wanted to break the unity between all four unions and break the solidarity—but everyone saw through what they were trying to do.

“We need to keep going after Thursday—we need escalation”.

This dispute can win—and it’s not just about the Tube workers. It shows how to take on Tory austerity.

Every trade unionist and campaigner should bring solidarity to the Tube workers’ picket lines.

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