It All Ends In Tears

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 02/24/2007 - 17:39

RMT is set to abandon its dispute and accept LUL's appalling pay offer. Many workers were willing to strike, feeling they had come too far and waited to long to give up now. But others felt too demoralised to carry on. And the union took its lead from those who did not want to fight.

TSSA and ASLEF played an absolutely appalling role during the dispute. Accepting the deal was bad enough. But their collaboration with the company in arranging for their members to get a pay rise while it was denied to RMT members was a disgusting breach of the most basic principles of trade union solidarity.

The whole trade union movement should denounce them for it. If such treachery takes off, then employers the length and breadth of the country will have a new weapon to use to divide and defeat workers.

RMT will rightly point the finger of blame at ASLEF and TSSA. But it also needs to take a long, hard look at itself. Tubeworker said last year that its 'waiting game' strategy was a risky one - it failed to force an improved pay offer from management, and it left members desperate for their money. We also said that the union was not doing enough to keep staff informed about the issues. If there had been the same flurry of leaflets over the last year as there has been over the last six weeks, then members would have been clearer and more confident.

The sad fact is that the union has repeated mistakes it made in previous disputes. Rank-and-file activists need to get organised, so that the union does not repeat those mistakes again next time round. Tubeworker aims to ensure that this happens, and invites those who share our view to contact us.

Comments

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 02/27/2007 - 20:45

Hi Rick

I totally agree with you about the need for rank-and-file activists to organise to prevent the union(s) making the same mistakes in future disputes, and to equip ourselves to produce our own leaflets etc without waiting for head office.

And I accept that some confidence had gone out of the fight in some areas, and that a lot of good activists share your view that it was right to call off the strike. But I think that RMT should have gone ahead with action rather than accept the pay deal, for two reasons:

1. Lots of members did want to strike. There are lots of staff on the stations where I work who are bitterly disappointed that they will not have the chance to strike for a better deal and to deliver a message to management. The union should try to raise everyone up to the level of the most confident and combative, not pull everyone down to the level of the least.

2. The pay deal is now exactly what we said it was two weeks ago. It's terrible. It's a three-year deal that requires the unions to put our weapons away for three years while the employer keeps its guns loaded. The annual pay rises are only a tiny amount above inflation (worth less than two quid a week to a station assistant). And it introduces a form of performance-related pay (on a collective, rather than an individual, basis) into the operational grades for the first time ever. That's terrible. It's a case of accept it or fight it, and I can't see how we can accept it.

I accept your point that unions sometimes have to beat an orderly retreat. But only sometimes - this is becoming a habit! In fact, I'm not sure when the last time was that the Tube unions did not retreat (apart from swift victories such as the Raj & Les case).

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 17:04

Following the decision of its national executive today, RMT has issued the press release below. As you can see, the union is pretending that it has won, rather than admitting that it has been forced to retreat. Obviously, any organisation would want to spin any outcome to look as good as possible. But if RMT repeats this PR to its members, they will see right through it.

Bob implies in the press release that the only problem with the pay offer was the 'strings', and that the only 'string' was the tie to later running. So the management line that station staff didn't get their pay rise for months because of drivers' issues was true then?! No, it wasn't true. The issue was also how bad the pay offer was. But that seems to have been forgotten now.

-----

RMT calls off threatened Tube strike after LUL backs down

LONDON UNDERGROUND union RMT today called off its threatened Tube strike after management agreed to withdraw strings attached to last year's pay deal.

For the past 14 months, LUL has attempted to link the deal with productivity strings such as agreement on late-night running.

But following a three-to-one vote in favour of strike action on February 19 by RMT's 6,500 London Underground members, management has climbed down on the issue.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that the breakthrough was due to the fact that the union's LUL members had shown they were not prepared to be pushed around.

"Management's decision has, at last, opened the way for the implementation of last year's pay deal," he added.

"If London Underground management had not attempted to attach strings to the deal in the first place then we could have drawn a line under this matter more than a year ago."

Submitted by TB on Thu, 03/15/2007 - 09:45

Hi Rick,

Bit of a scattergun reply but I hope you can see what parts of your last post on this thread I am replying to.

It will certainly take the edge off the eager activists that their union has signed up to such a bad deal. The best time to raise the level of those who have never been in dispute before is during a dispute. Likewise, the best chance of getting solidarity between the unions is when there is a dispute. The main thing that all grades have in common is the yearly pay round. Having no action now probably puts off forming a vibrant inter-union rank and file body for at least three years.

RMT has already fought a protracted dispute on the underground in its campaign against PPP, what makes you think that can’t be done again?

I like the talk about breaking the anti-union laws but we are a long way from doing that if there is no fight against this deal.

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