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Latest News - April 2014

April 9, 2014
Tube workers gear up for further strikes
Source: Workers Liberty
By: Ira Berkovic

The negotiations forced on London Underground bosses by Tube workers’ strike of 4-6 February will conclude on 14 April.

Activists in the RMT union say the talks have been useful for learning more about the scale of bosses’ cuts plans, but that little progress has been made, management remain intransigent and workers must be prepared to strike again.

The talks have revealed that LU bosses want to increase managerial staff by 370%, while reducing frontline staff by 753 posts. While they propose to close every ticket office on the network, they have admitted that they only plan to install 150 new ticket machines. And while they promised a ‘station-by-station review’ of ticket office closures, they have conducted only a superficial review, with handpicked stations standing in as ‘examples’ for others of similar sizes and types. In the ‘Equality Impact Assessment’ conducted into the impact of the proposed cuts on various groups who face specific oppression or discrimination in society, LU admitted that its cuts will impact negatively on disabled people and older people.

RMT activists are mobilising for further action, and although no specific dates have been named, the union’s Regional Council has produced “Get Ready To Strike Again” publicity (pictured) for distribution around workplaces and union branches. The law requires unions to give bosses seven days’ notice of any strike, so the earliest a strike could take place following the conclusion of talks would be Tuesday 22 April. The union has said it will call a mass members’ meeting following the conclusion of talks.

RMT is also committed not to resolve the dispute while disciplinary procedures remain outstanding against any union member. Currently, three activists — Mark Harding, John Reid and Ian Stewart — face disciplinary sanctions of various kinds (and in Mark’s case, legal sanction). The union is mounting a strong defence of all three.

The fact that management agreed to pause their cuts plan for further talks following the February strike shows that solid action can force concessions. But their intransigence in the talks since then — a position it was easier for them to take without any further strikes on the horizon — shows how committed LUL bosses are to their cuts project. 48 hours of action is unlikely to be enough to shift them again, so RMT and TSSA will have to consider sustained and escalating action, with creatively-designed forms of “action short of strike” in between all-out strikes, to win their demands of no job losses, no ticket office closures, and no victimisations.

It would further strengthen the fight if Unite were to ballot its members (some managers and engineering workers). DriversDrivers-only union ASLEF joining the fight would make it stronger still — and with LUL having formally begun the process of tendering for driverless trains, the cuts are showing a more direct impact on drivers.

Joint meetings of members of all unions which are part of the fight, convened as soon as possible, would enable activists to discuss the dispute face-to-face.

The election for a new General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers’ union (RMT) has begun, following the tragic death of former incumbent Bob Crow.

Five people have so far declared their candidacies — Mick Cash (the current Senior Assistant General Secretary), John Leach (former National President and current London Transport Regional Organiser), Steve Hedley (currently the other Assistant General Secretary alongside Mick Cash), Alan Pottage (current head of the union’s Organising Department) and Alex Gordon (former National President).

Nominations formally open on 10 April and other candidates may also emerge before nominations close on 2 July.

Workers’ Liberty members in the RMT are supporting John Leach. John’s platform includes a commitment to deepening and extending rank-and-file democracy in the RMT, pursuing a creative and militant industrial strategy, and improving the union’s work on equalities. John has also committed not to take the pay increase that would come with the post.

For the next few months, branches will be deciding which candidate to nominate. Members will then vote in a postal ballot between 21 July and 22 September.

 

 

 


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