TUBE WORKERS are to hold a swift ballot for strike action over pay after management broke off talks and imposed a settlement. The move comes as the government presses ahead with its PPP privatisation scheme and follows a highly effective one-day strike by RMT union members on the tube over safety last month.
This time train drivers' union Aslef is also balloting its members on the tube. Even the TSSA union is balloting. It has traditionally recruited members on the tube by attacking the RMT for being 'too militant'. Tube management broke off talks after reducing the amount of money on the table.
It imposed a 3 percent offer and withdrew 3.2 percent after unions refused to sign away their right to strike.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said, 'It is London Underground that has refused mediation and we now have nowhere else to go but to ballot for strike action. 'They know they have tabled the lowest pay offer of all the 33 train operating companies in Britain.'
The company also refused to discuss equalising hours, travel concessions and pension rights across the workforce. Over the last ten years staffing levels on the tube have fallen by a third while passenger numbers have risen by 30 percent. Fares revenue has doubled.
Management's hard line is linked to the current drive for privatisation. The ballot closes on 3 September. The anti-union London Evening Standard seized on that last week to spuriously claim that a strike was pencilled in for 11 September, the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre. There is absolutely no truth in the Standard's report.
It is, however, an indication of how rattled London Underground management and the government are over the prospect of further tube strikes. Every tube worker knows that strikes now, whether over pay or safety, are a direct challenge to privatisation. So do the majority of people in London, who backed last month's strike for just that reason.
RMT MEMBERS at London Underground's Parsons Green and Leytonstone depots are balloting for industrial action over two separate cases of victimisation.
'At Parsons Green a tube worker with 24 years service and a 20-year blemish-free safety record as a driver was dismissed for a minor safety infringement which endangered no one and which in other cases has elicited no more than a word in the driver's ear,' said RMT regional organiser Bobby Law.
'At Leytonstone another driver has been charged with gross misconduct over a minor disagreement with a manager, despite LUL's human resources department already agreeing that he had no case to answer.'