London Underground: diary of a striker

Submitted by cathy n on 11 June, 2009 - 4:10 Author: An RMT member

Wednesday 3rd June
Spent day talking to colleagues about strike. Depressing start. Some don't support it for various reasons: can’t afford to lose two days money; we will look greedy striking for a pay rise during the recession; RMT is unreasonable; some people feel we can't win.
Chatted to someone about the recession. I said we didn’t cause it and shouldn’t suffer; we need a strong workers’ movement to protect jobs in all industries and our strike will keep the movement strong. He said, ‘it makes a certain kind of sense’, but wasn’t convinced, like he wanted to believe it but didn't quite trust his instincts.
By the end of the day, most people I talked to said they were going to strike. A lot of them can see the issues straight away. Some said,why should I take a pay cut when our managers earn over £100 grand a year?, etc. Looks like the strike might be quite strong where I work.

Thursday 4th June
Popped into work. Saw a couple more people. Someone even asked me where picket lines would be and promised to chauffeur people around on the day if we wanted!
Our branch met to plan pickets and how to make a small number of activists stretch over six locations and two days? We will concentrate on the drivers’ depots to have the best chance of stopping the service.
Meeting for campaigners and the general public to support the strike was well-attended. We gave out leaflets for people to give out to the public on the day.

Friday 5th June
Spent day waiting for update on negotiations. Found out management dropped from a five to a two year pay deal, but with no extra money. No word on compulsory redundancies. I worried that without the five year deal people might be less willing to strike.
Talked to some people at work. People could see we still need to fight. ‘What’s the point of a two year deal if we have no job in a few years’ time?’. People say the pay offer is still not enough to cover their costs. People encouraged that we’re getting somewhere tho. Shows strikes really are the only language management understand.

Monday 8th June
Negotiations going on again today. People asking me what the update is, wanting to know whether it will go ahead. Customers asked me too. I told them that we had been left no option but to strike and when their service would be affected. Most people were grateful for the information, polite and supportive.
One colleague told me she is leaving the RMT cos we are too militant. Made me angry cos she is happy enough to reap the rewards of what we fight for. But not too sad about losing a member. Apparently RMT loses some but picks up others every time it fights.
Got news that ten hours of negotiations had produced nothing, only the offer of more talks. They are still refusing to guarantee no compulsory redundancies, even tho management signed an agreement on it in 2001. People were pissed off, they can see management are being deliberately uncooperative. Looks almost certain that I will get to go on strike.
- Hide quoted text -

Tuesday 9th June
woke this morning to find management have spun the lie that all our demands have been met but RMT is still striking over two sacked Victoria line drivers. Complete lies! The dispute on the Vic line is separate to ours. Went round all the stations trying to convince people. Astonished by how quick people are to believe management's lies rather than the union - perhaps cos it provides them with the excuse to scab they're looking for.... Bit of a prevalent attitude that it doesn't matter if you come to work, others will fight your battle for you.

Went to work. Services on the Bakerloo line were suspended from 6.50pm, then other lines began to go down too. By the end of the day, only the Northern Line was running a full service. Quite exciting to see it all happening, and that our strike is looking solid.

Popped along to Kings Cross picket, where there was a lively bunch of station staff. After work, popped up to Chalk Farm to try to spread the strike by stopping some P-way workers booking on. Not very successful.

Apparently, management and the union were ready to sign a deal at ACAS, but at the last minute Boris Johnson phoned up and stopped them. He doesn't want to make it look as though the union has any power over him. He's never been told what to do by working class person in his life and it seems he's not about to start.

Wednesday 10th June

My first strike day. Picketed at leytonstone where nobody crossed.

Most of the lines were suspended or part suspended. Traffic was chaos. We have had a big impact, tho I was disappointed that some lines were running. They were reporting 'Northern Line: Good Service', though that was an exaggeration.

I was even more gutted to see people at work at my own workplace. People I have represented as a union rep and others who are my good friends. No sense of class solidarity. They just see striking as an option.

Media was full of lies and people calling for us to be sacked. We are all selfish and greedy apparently.

Although disappointed by some, I have been proud today. All over London, picket lines have been maintained from 0430 to as late as midnight by hundreds of people who have not only lost pay but dedicated months of their energy to this fight. Far from being selfish, we are doing something more noble than those truly selfish bastards writing into the Evening Standard could ever understand.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.