From Thursday and over the weekend, let’s hit management hard to press our demand for pensions and passes equality. We want maximum support in every Tube Lines workplace to maximise our chances of winning.
Every RMT member should be out on Thursday, and members of other unions should remember the golden rule: you never cross a picket line. With ASLEF moving into dispute with Tube Lines as well, members can show their willingness to fight by respecting the picket lines today.
Then, when we hold the line of doing no overtime over the weekend, Tube Lines will really feel the impact.
Early on in the dispute, we won Staff and Nominee Passes. It’s amazing how something that was ‘impossible’ for years became possible when we put action on. But this was just one part of our demand, and a pretty negligible part if you live, and do most of your travelling, outside London. We need *full* travel equality.
Probably even more important is pensions. There is no excuse whatsoever for more recent workers having an inferior pension to those of us who date back to pre-PPP days. We should all be able to look forward to a comfortable retirement after years slogging our guts out on this job.
Even for those still in the TfL Pension Scheme, the pensions issue is important to every one of us – and to every member, and potential member, of the TfL Scheme. It is one of the best around, and to remain secure, need to maintain its membership, with new employees joining up and their contributions replacing those of members who retire. Getting everyone back in the scheme protects all our pensions.
Underpinning both issues is the basic principle of equality: we and our workmates on London Underground and beyond should have equal rights. No ifs, no buts, no two-tier workforce.
Tube Lines management have put out propaganda that there is no point in us taking action because they can’t talk to us about our demands while the future ownership of the company remains uncertain.
Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? A long catalogue of experience tells us that “can’t”s become “can”s under the pressure of solid action.
In any case, we have an opinion about that future ownership, and if a stroppy workforce puts off potential private owners, then that’s a bonus.
PricewaterhouseCoopers are compiling an options report on the subject – just like they did in the run-up to the notorious PPP. Will they recommend giving us back to Amey, selling us to someone new, keep maintenance in-house and contracting-out projects and upgrades? the only acceptable solution to us is to be fully reintegrated into a publicly-owned London Underground, and the only options report we need is how to squeeze money from the rich and the capitalists to fund the job properly, and how we can democratise the job and wrest control from the managers who mess it up.
And after this weekend?
The good news is that our fight has now picked up again. It was allowed to lose a lot of momentum after April’s strike, and we shouldn’t let the union put too much faith in a hopeless Joint Working Party again. These talking shops only get results when they take place alongside industrial action, not in place of it.
We should be smart - keep hitting possessions and blockades, work out what trouble management the most, whilst being sustainable for us. This requires pooling of information, and continuous discussion of tactics. Central to this is the role of the strike committee, bringing together reps and members from across the job. Every Tube Lines workplace must ensure that it sends a representative to the strike committee meetings.
We may soon have the chance to co-ordinate our action with others, too. RMT is balloting Central and Bakerloo line drivers to refuse to take trains into depots or sidings without physical detrainment, and the union plans to call strike action across several cleaning companies later this month. With Tube Lines’ cleaning contract up for renewal, we should kick ISS out and bring cleaning back in-house.