ABOUT 100 reps and activists from the RMT union’s tube workers’ section met last week to plan the next stage of our fight over pay, conditions and job cuts.
The meeting was addressed by RMT leader Bob Crow and London organiser Bobby Law. We rejected the latest offer from London Underground. It’s crap—no movement on our demands and concerns.
The overall mood of the meeting was excellent. Reps criticised the decision to call off the 10 June strike, demanded more action, and reported a number of notable successes in the strike two weeks ago.
We also assessed the strengths and weaknesses of our recent strike. Central London station reps reported a big increase in the number of stations that had pickets for the first time—Green Park and Bond Street among them.
On the Central Line reps spoke of picket lines getting bigger and younger, a much better expression of the composition of our union. Many workers saw the unprecedented closure of King’s Cross as a barometer of the dispute.
The picture was also excellent in the train depots. The RMT has nearly half the train operator membership. And we were able to pull in widespread support from drivers in the Aslef union.
However, the relationship between the two unions is not without its problems. Mick Rix, Aslef’s left wing former leader, worked roughly in tandem with Bob Crow. But the gains made in this period are in danger of evaporating.
Throughout a series of important strikes over safety, first the RMT then Aslef struck alongside the other union, even though it was illegal for them to do so. This was magnificent solidarity in what was essentially a battle over privatisation.
With Aslef currently tearing itself apart at the top, a series of filthy leaflets and circulars has appeared. These attacked the RMT in general and station staff in particular, calling on Aslef members to scab.
This meant that lots of decent Aslef reps struck, but weren’t on the picket lines and didn’t influence Aslef’s membership. As many as half of Aslef’s membership may have reported for duty. Even some Aslef reps scabbed.
Many RMT reps issued letters in the days following the strike, thanking the Aslef drivers that did strike and reiterating some basic “united we stand” arguments.
The task now is to build on the strengths and address the weaknesses. We’re in a good position to push forward and win this dispute.