Socialist Worker

Tube staff can derail bosses' attacks

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2467

Tube workers picket Kings Cross during a walkout earlier this month

Tube workers picket King's Cross during a walkout earlier this month (Pic: Tom Kay)


Tube workers in London were set to strike on Tuesday and Thursday of next week against attacks on conditions, health and safety and jobs. 

This includes the introduction of Night Tube, which would make some lines 24-hour on weekends. 

But the united walkouts  by the Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite unions last month and earlier this month shut down the network. 

They showed the unions’ power to resist Transport for London (TfL) bosses. 

Workers will still have to fight Night Tube—but the shutdowns made bosses back down from imposing new working conditions. 

It’s no victory, but it’s a far cry from London’s Tory mayor Boris Johnson insisting, “They can strike until they are blue in the face. The Night Tube will go ahead.”

He tried to obscure the issues provoking the strike, claiming it was “political” and just “sour grapes” because Labour had lost the election. 

But after July’s shutdown Johnson back-pedalled and said he was “not hung up on the date” for Night Tube starting despite originally mooting 12 September.

TfL bosses pumped out propaganda about greedy Tube workers on £50,000 a year wanting more money. 

Drivers are paid that, but they are a minority. And why shouldn’t workers get higher wages?

Reorganisation

Many station staff have had their wages slashed from £32,000 to £23,000 a year as a result of radical cuts and the reorganisation of stations. But the disputes are not about pay, but a wider range of attacks

Following the shutdowns and the threat of more action, Tube bosses said that they are “operationally ready” for 12 September “but not at any cost”.

It is a big shift—but it is by no means the end of the dispute.

There is no negotiated agreement and bosses still reserve the right to impose conditions at a later date.

Unfortunately, the walkouts next week will not include Tube drivers’ union Aslef. Only the RMT, TSSA and Unite unions had confirmed the dates as Socialist Worker went to press. 

United action has forced a change in the bosses’ strategy.

Solidarity between Tube workers next week can maintain that unity, even if the leaderships have temporarily misplaced it.

Trade unionists should not cross picket lines. It’s not about what union workers are in, but which side they are on.


More rail strikes at First Great Western

First Great Western (FGW) rail workers in the RMT union were set to launch another wave of industrial action from this weekend. 

They’re fighting bosses’ threats to their jobs, services and safety.

The dispute with FGW bosses stems from the introduction of new Hitachi intercity trains on the Great Western and South Wales main lines.

All members, excluding maintenance workers, are set to strike for 24 hours this Sunday. A further 72-hour walkout is set for 29, 30 and 31 August.

Maintenance crew are also set for two 24-hour walkouts on 29 and 31 August and are instructed not to work any overtime or rest days on 23 and 30 August.


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