Around 4,000 London Underground station workers struck on Monday in their fight against 600 job cuts. The RMT union members’ action shut most of the Tube network. It followed an overtime ban last week that closed many key stations, showing how understaffed the service is already.
Transport For London (TFL) bosses want to slash 10 percent of the workforce, making public transport much less safe. Norman, a station worker at Highbury and Islington in north London, told Socialist Worker, “We are going to see more extreme shifts, more working weekends and fatigued staff. We will be understaffed and overworked. It’s already a struggle working and the stations are getting busier and busier.
“If management gets their way, workers who manage the platform at peak hours will go. We will see more overcrowding and stations will be less safe.”
George, another station worker, agreed. “A major issue is the damage to our work-life balance,” he told Socialist Worker. “A lot of part time jobs will go. Some parents usually work those jobs so they can look after their children.”
The strikers have received lots of support. At Brixton station in south London, NEU education union members joined the picket line in solidarity. Elsewhere retired station workers and Extinction Rebellion activists showed their support.
George said the station cuts won’t just affect staff, but also hit disabled passengers. “We help disabled people get from the barrier to the platform,” he said. “If you are blind, for example, you can’t drive so the Tube is your only option. So staff are going to be working really hard and there may not be anyone to help them.”
Kings Cross station in central London is expected to lose 26 jobs. Heathrow station in west London will lose 22. TfL bosses claim they have to force through job cuts to repay government bailouts during the pandemic. George said, “In other cities transport networks are funded by the government—TFL is funded mostly by ticket sales. It means when Covid stopped people using the Tube, the staff were expected to accept worse conditions.”
But workers are refusing to pay for a coronavirus crisis they didn’t create. This mood is made even stronger as many workers suffered the worst symptoms of Covid by working on the front line.
The walkout and overtime ban follows a 48 hour-strike in March, when all grades walked out. Monday’s strike showed the power of workers. The RMT union should call more and longer strikes involving workers across the Tube network to beat back the bosses.
Cop 28 won't address fossil fuels
A wafer-thin majority backed a union-endorsed pay deal
But he will insist he got “the big decisions” right