Socialist Worker

More stations were closed than ever before

Issue No. 1909

SOME TUBES were running during our strike, but management were very worried by just how few Aslef union drivers crossed the picket line.

Aslef is in a crisis at the moment. The left is spending almost all its time fighting an internal battle.

Some in Aslef’s hierarchy did everything they could to undermine our strike.

Management was clearly delighted at the posters and circulars Aslef produced which were aimed at trying to break the unity between the unions.

But most Aslef drivers ignored this. They stayed away. At one depot, 75 percent of Aslef members stayed at home.

The picture was mixed at other depots. But one thing is clear—unity, and a shared understanding of the attack we all face, meant that management didn’t get the service running as they believed they would.

There is a danger that some RMT activists will only see that some Aslef members scabbed.

This would be a mistake. The important thing is that the unity is still there with most drivers, despite their own union’s best efforts.

We need to build on that unity, not destroy it by just complaining about those drivers who believed what some Aslef officials told them.

The biggest success last week was on the stations, where the lowest paid workers are. The RMT organisation has been in need of attention on the stations for a long time.

But more stations were closed this time than we’ve seen before and there were more station picket lines. On one station group, out of 100 staff only one crossed a picket line.

When you remember there are two unions on the stations, you can see the strike is something that all union members can be very proud of.


Where next?

ACTIVISTS WERE due to meet this week to discuss our next step and talks between the union and management were to take place.

It’s vital that we call more strikes. There is enormous pressure on our union leaders not to call further action.

The lesson from the firefighters’ dispute is that there must be enough pressure from below to counter the pressure that union leaders come under from above.

We need to take the arguments out to the wider trade union movement.

Support from other workers is absolutely crucial.

They should never forget that Ken Livingstone called on union members to cross picket lines, but that Livingstone is only in power because the unions stood by him when he was kicked out of the Labour Party.

Livingstone owes a debt to the union movement, and we should make sure we use our previous support for him to pressure him now.

RMT members voted enthusiastically to strike.

It’s important that activists remind the RMT leadership of this, and of just how successful our strike was.

The latest issue of Across the Tracks, the rank and file rail workers’ paper, is out now. To get copies, phone 07949 228 324 or e-mail acrossthetracks@tiscali.co.uk


Politics in the dispute

LOTS OF tube workers are angry that Livingstone has rejoined Labour. That’s why his call to scab fell on deaf ears.

We reckon postal workers, firefighters, staff in the councils and the print might be wondering why their union backed Ken or gives money to Labour.

Livingstone had always courted the transport unions, and he had a reputation as a friend of the bus and tube worker.

He was given a favour too far by the RMT’s executive when the proposed strike on election day, 10 June, was called off.

He repaid tube workers with his call to scab. We repaid him by stopping the job.

There’d been loads of debate on stations, and in depots and union branches, in the run-up to the last elections about who, if anyone, we should vote for.

A number of RMT branches and many activists and individual members backed Respect.

Do we feel vindicated? Too right we do—just think about it.

If we had got just 0.4 percent more of the vote, then we would have had a Respect member of the London Assembly on our picket lines.

As it is, no GLA member turned up to support us.


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Sat 10 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1909
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