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Fighting privatisation strikes a popular mood

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London Underground management was forced to admit that Monday's strike paralysed the tube.
Issue 1734

London Underground management was forced to admit that Monday’s strike paralysed the tube.

Tube bosses said 92 percent of services were cancelled. The true figure was even higher. At 10am there was no service at all on nine out of the 11 tube lines.

London Underground trained up managers to drive trains to try and break the strike. But it was forced to admit just how dangerous this is when they suspended two managers for breaching safety regulations on the strike day.

The media outside London tried to play down the strike’s effectiveness. But gridlocked roads meant they could not sell the same message in London.

‘Strikers Cripple The Tube’ was a headline in London’s Evening Standard. ‘We are getting great support from the public, despite the inconvenience,’ said Simon, an RMT member outside Elephant and Castle station in south London. ‘People know this is about safety and privatisation.’

The London Socialist Alliance mobilised solidarity for the strike. Delegations of trade unionists, as well as Socialist Alliance candidates, visited the picket lines. They leafleted in support and held protests in the road outside several key stations.

At Seven Sisters tube pickets were joined by Socialist Alliance supporters, members of the UNISON union and the trades council in Haringey, and local Labour councillor Lucy Craig.

A further tube strike was due to go ahead on Monday, although talks were taking place as Socialist Worker went to press.

Where was Livingstone?

There was widespread disappointment among tube workers that London mayor Ken Livingstone did not stand with them on the picket line, as he had promised last month.

Some were furious. ‘He’s behaving just like any other politician,’ said one RMT member at Seven Sisters station. Ken Livingstone and deputy prime minister John Prescott struck an eleventh hour deal over New Labour’s PPP privatisation plan for the tube on Friday of last week.

Prescott retreated a little and said that Livingstone’s transport commissioner, Bob Kiley, would be allowed to revise the PPP plan. But Livingstone also retreated, dropping outright opposition to Prescott’s scheme.

Private consortia still hope to get their hands on the tube, which will be broken up into six units in a similar way to the disastrous privatisation of the mainline railway.

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