Socialist Worker

Tube workers call fresh walkouts to take on bosses

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2466

Striking Tube workers picketing in Stratford last week

Striking Tube workers picketing in Stratford ( (Pic: Alan Kenny)


The RMT union has announced two further 24-hour Tube strikes for 25 and 27 August. The other three unions have not yet confirmed if they will join the walkouts. 

Tube workers brought London to a halt on Thursday of last week with a total shutdown of the network.

East London tube driver Michael told Socialist Worker, “We’re solid—not one driver’s gone in and I’m sure picketing here is just like everywhere else.”

It was the same on the Brixton picket line in south London. RMT union rep Micky told Socialist Worker, “Having all four unions out has really boosted people.” 

This was the second united walkout by all four Tube unions—Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite.

Tory mayor Boris Johnson and London Underground (LU) bosses are getting increasingly desperate.

Queues formed at train stations and bus stops from early evening on Wednesday as the shutdown began. By rush hour on Thursday morning 428 traffic jams were reported.

Bosses are trying to ram through plans to bring in the Night Tube in September. This would make some lines 24-hour at weekends.

They also want to impose new rosters on station staff and make them work anywhere on a line at 24 hours’ notice.

Bosses always focus on pay to draw attention away from their plans to push through new rotas and £4.2 billion in cuts.

Impact

Aslef union general secretary Mick Whelan told Socialist Worker, “We’re not against the Night Tube—we’re against the impact that it would currently have.

“This is about a tyrannical and draconian management trying to impose it.” RMT union rep Barrie told Socialist Worker on the London Bridge picket line, “This is not about pay. They want to slash 900 station staff jobs in February, having already closed ticket offices”.

There are a number of other live ballots on the Tube, including over the increasing use of agency staff and attacks on health and safety.

RMT driver Graham explained what the Night Tube would mean for workers. “You’ve always got fatigue anyway and this would get worse with the new rosters,” he said. 

“You’re up at 3am and eating breakfast two hours later one day, then a couple of days later you’re at work until 3am.”

Passenger safety at stations is also under threat. LU bosses have already scaled back the track maintenance regime—and this would get worse under the Night Tube while usage was going up.

Barrie added, “Trains would be running from 5am on Friday until 12.30am on Sunday, but the trains and the track need checking regularly.”

The Tube strike caught a mood of resistance. Local NUT, UCU and Unison members joined the picket line in Brixton and a National Gallery striker brought solidarity to London Bridge. Many commuters also came up to thank workers for taking on the Tories.

Yet the Unite leadership is sitting on a live ballot on the London buses—there is no justification for not calling their members out. 

Workers have shown their power to take on austerity—with more action and solidarity they can win.

Some names have been changed

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Article information

News
Tue 11 Aug 2015, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2466
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