THE ALL-OUT strike by 199 workers at LTI (London Taxis International) in Coventry began its third week on Tuesday-and the mood 'is as hard, no, harder than ever', one striker told Socialist Worker. The workers, members of the TGWU and Amicus unions, make taxis. They began the strike after months of tortuous negotiations over pay.
A mass meeting last week voted unanimously to continue with the action and more than half the workforce took part in a mass picket. One of the homemade signs on the picket line summed up the mood-'Pay, not peanuts'. 'It was great for us all to be together on the picket line, and loads better than if we'd just been out for a day and then back again,' says a striker. 'You really feel we are putting pressure on the company. In an average week we turn out 55 of the traditional black taxicabs you see on the streets of London. 'So we've already 'fined' the company 100 cars and there is more to come unless they make a decent offer.'
The gap between what the workers want (4 percent) and what management are offering seems small. 'But it's not just about the cash but about how we are treated and whether we are going to be given some consideration,' says Stuart, one of the strikers.
The company has already been forced to move. Its first offer back in May last year was a 2 percent rise tied to the imposition of monthly pay and annualising hours. Workers rejected that in a ballot.
The next offer was 2.9 percent with no strings, but that was also rejected. 'Our demands have increased as the talks went on,' says Stuart. 'It's a bloody cheek that the management began by trying to foist worse conditions on us as well as a paltry pay rise. We voted by 86 percent for industrial action but there was no improved offer from management so out we went.'
Another striker says, 'Two of the top management figures have given themselves bonuses of £60,000 and £80,000. There's plenty of money for them so we don't accept that 'because times are hard for the company' we should be making any sort of sacrifice.'
The picketing has been excellent from the start. 'The scale of the participation in the strike shows how determined people are and how much they are in favour of the pay campaign,' says a TGWU steward.
Send messages of support and donations to John McGee, Convenor (LTI), c/o Transport House, Parkside, Coventry.