Socialist Worker

Let's back those who back us

by Tony Collins, tube driver Edgware Road depot
Issue No. 1908

ENCOURAGING scabbing on this week’s strike is not the first time Ken Livingstone has attacked tube workers for fighting back.

During the strike over my colleague Chris Barrett, who was spied on and sacked while off sick, Livingstone’s people told the media Chris was a “parasite”.

Livingstone said, “I don’t know how he got away with it for so long,” when Chris’s confidential attendance records were somehow leaked to the media.

Statements like that have contributed to the worst industrial relations on the tube for 20 years.

There was no apology when Chris won his case at an industrial tribunal.

What’s clear is that just because someone says the right things over George Bush, there’s no guarantee they won’t abandon their principles over other issues.

Livingstone could have made such a difference to London and to the working lives of Londoners.

Imagine how brilliant it would have been had he launched a new “Fares fair” campaign, with all tube fares pegged at £1.

Imagine if he had worked with the unions to fight PPP to the finish.

But he abandoned his court action over PPP after he had privately asked RMT general secretary Bob Crow if the union could organise a strike against privatisation.

Livingstone has now rejoined the Labour Party.

Meltdown

The one thing we need now is people putting pressure on Blair to go—but by rejoining Labour, Livingstone helped Blair avoid a total meltdown in London. Since then he has refused to call for Blair to go.

But Livingstone has also suffered for his decision. It’s clear he’s lost support among working class people in London.

Millions of people feel there is a need for a true alternative to Labour.

They don’t want “pragmatism”. They don’t want privatisation “managed” better. They want it scrapped.

They want a decent transport system, and they want the people who work on it treated fairly.

The Respect coalition has shown people are willing to vote for a left alternative.

Respect supports tube workers, as it supports all workers, in our fight for a decent wage.

Other parties did well out of the anti-war movement, but you don’t see them on our picket lines.

Does anyone even know if the Greens support unions?

The Liberal Democrats have called for changes in the law to stop us striking—nice definition of “liberal” there.

This strike has created a dividing line.

Many thousands of tube workers and trade unionists in London will be looking to see which side those who want our political support come down on.


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News
Sat 3 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1908
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