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Tube fight is far from over

This article is over 20 years, 9 months old
Issue 1760

Despite judge’s ruling

Tube fight is far from over

A HIGH court judge ruled last Monday that London Underground management and the government could impose the PPP privatisation plan for the tube. That is despite the opposition of 90 percent of people in London and the advice of almost every transport expert in Britain.

But Judge Sullivan said he could not consider the issues of safety and the inefficiency of private finance. These were at the heart of London mayor Ken Livingstone’s legal challenge. But even Judge Sullivan said the government had railroaded the scheme through. Livingstone now says he will “consider the judgement carefully” before a likely appeal.

He should do more than that. There would be huge support for any public campaign against New Labour’s plans for the tube. A running internet discussion organised by the London Evening Standard records an overwhelming majority against PPP.

There was majority support for two strikes by tube workers earlier this year over the way privatisation threatens safety. Mick Rix, general secretary of the ASLEF train drivers’ union, says he will ballot members on the tube if the PPP scheme raises safety fears. It does. PPP means a Railtrack underground, even after the concessions won by tube workers taking strike action.

The RMT rail union has pledged to maintain opposition to privatisation. Rank and file tube workers have launched a petition calling on Livingstone to hold a series of rallies and call a mass demonstration against PPP. They are asking trade unionists across London to take it up. The government is still in a weak position. Transport secretary Stephen Byers is arrogantly pressing ahead with PPP, but also hopes to cut a deal with Livingstone.

Union leaders should put maximum pressure on Livingstone to campaign now against PPP and should prepare to do it themselves if he will not.

  • Phone 07904 157 779 to order copies of the petition.

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