Socialist Worker

Strike threat wins concessions on Tube - but attacks on stations continue

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2488

Tube workers shut down the network when they struck together last August

Tube workers shut down the network when they struck together last August


Tube unions Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite suspended a 24-hour walkout set to begin on Tuesday of this week after bosses made a new offer.

All four unions were in dispute over pay and the imposition of worse conditions as part of rolling out the Night Tube. United action in July and August last year has won real gains.

The proposed deal sees the creation up to 700 Night Tube posts with the same terms as other Tube workers.

All operational staff are to be paid a £500 lump sum and bosses commit to improve the work-life balance.

Tory London mayor Boris Johnson had said Tube workers could strike until they were “blue in the face” but nothing would change.

Yet the Tory toff has been pushed back and now faces questions over wasting £600,000 on Night Tube advertising—despite not having a start date.

But for station staff attacks on their terms and conditions, ticket office closures and several hundred job losses outweigh the gains.

RMT and TSSA remain in dispute over this. They struck throughout 2014 to defend jobs, safety and the service.

But the momentum of those walkouts was thrown away for talks, which many activists argued would go nowhere.

Advantage

This gave bosses the upper hand—and they pressed their advantage.

Johnson has been at the heart of the cuts plan but he hasn’t had it all his own way because the unions have kept up a fight.

More industrial action is set for 7-13 February.

Over pay the deal sees an average 2 percent rise for 2015. For this and the next two years pay would rise by at least 1 percent or RPI inflation—whichever is greater.

A four-year deal will be good news for the winner of the London mayoral election in May. It will potentially allow them to avoid any pay disputes far beyond the middle of their term.

These are just battles in a wider war.

The attack on stations was just 6 percent of the cuts bosses want by 2021. And they want to move on to other sections as soon as they can.

As passenger numbers continue to soar and the number of incidents rise, properly staffed stations with well-trained workers is crucial for safety.

The key lesson of the disputes is that when Tube workers and their unions unite, bosses can be pushed back.

This is how to defend jobs and a safe service.


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