In 1969, a wave of strikes by workers in Italy’s car industry was nicknamed “autonno caldo”, the “hot autumn”. As August turns in September, it’s time to start building for our own “hot autumn” on LU.
RMT previously suggested it will ballot stations and revenue staff for renewed strikes against the consequences of “Fit for the Future” in September. Time's running out for that; a reps' meeting is scheduled for 26 September, but it's now looking unlikely there'll be a ballot underway before the end of the month.
There is no good reason to have not declared a new dispute, and launched a new ballot, already. There is no shortage of issues around which a new dispute could be constructed: displacements, training, abuses of the Attendance At Work policy, and of course the fundamental issue of job cuts and staffing levels.
The sooner the ballot is announced the better: there’s nothing like a strike ballot to focus the mind.
Strikes should be supplemented by an overtime ban, and we should follow the example of our brothers and sisters on Southern and Eurostar by announcing sustained and impacting strikes: one or two days won’t cut it.
There are rumours of further cuts to be announced soon, under the aegis of "TfL transformation", with some arguing we should wait to see how they shape up before we act. But waiting just allows the bosses to gain momentum. We know we'll want to fight any new cuts, whatever they are, and there's enough going on now to merit new strikes.
Any new dispute on stations will be significantly strengthened if TSSA are involved. TSSA activists should be arguing within their union for them to get back in the ring.
We’ve seen a few stop-start disputes on trains side recently, on the Piccadilly Line, Central Line, and Victoria Line. A solid strike on the H&C over 14-15 September shut down the service.
There is clearly a long list of ongoing issues, many of which seem to be generalised across lines and depots: over-zealous managements abusing and breaching policies, for example. As managers on stations play increasingly fast and loose with policies such as Attendance At Work, some of those issues are taking on more of an all-grades character.
There’ve also been issues around rostering, and the unfair treatment of pool drivers in some depots. The testing of driverless trains on the Jubilee Line is also a huge provocation which merits an industrial response.
Our unions (in the first place, RMT, as the only all-grades union on the job) needs to rebuild solidarity between grades and functions.
Job cuts on stations affect drivers too, and our aspiration should be for a united dispute across the whole job, on shared issues.
Cleaners are being pummelled by the ruthless contractors to whom LU outsources.
Interserve and ISS are scrambling to undercut each other as they race to win the “super contract” due to be awarded next year.
Unions are weak in the cleaning grade, so the first job is the basic one of building up workers’ confidence and union strength. While that’s ongoing, a public campaign to embarrass the cleaning companies by exposing their exploitative practises could put real pressure on them.
There should be regular union demos outside Interserve and ISS offices, and the aim to launch industrial action as soon as possible. RMT's planned day of action on 13 October is an excellent start.
Engineering and Fleet
The dispute over core agreements on Fleet is almost certain to intensify soon; management right across the job are taking every opportunity they can to cut corners with policies and agreements.
TubeLines shunters and engineering train drivers have struck recently, and there may be fresh issues arising out of the cancellation of the Amey contract on the JNP.
Unions must identify common issues across functions and coordinate action wherever possible.