Tube / TfL Dispute

Submitted by Off The Rails on 2 July, 2009 - 10:50

London Underground and Transport for London workers struck for 48 hours from 9-11 June over pay, jobs and bullying.

  • 1,000 LU jobs and up to 3,000 in TfL are to go. LUL will not rule out compulsory redundancies, despite a 2001 agreement.
  • LU had tabled a 5-year pay offer amounting to a pay cut; TfL made no offer.
  • Managers have been mistreating staff, sometimes breaching procedures.

A 5:1 strike vote was abandoned as LUL threatened legal action over technicalities in the ballot notification. RMT’s reballot saw a bigger, 6:1, majority, albeit a lower turnout.

As the strike was about to start, RMT and management made a deal at ACAS. Then LUL managers ‘got a phone call’ and pulled out. This could only have been from high up in City Hall — Boris Johnson trying to serve the interests of himself and the Tory Party?!

There were some advances in the abortive agreement. The ‘no compulsory redundancy’ policy would cover most staff, but leave out those under immediate threat. Management also backed down a bit on sickness policies. But the ‘deal’ was not ideal.

Sadly for LUL/TfL, most staff know when they are being spun a line and not all ASLEF members did as Keith Norman’s disgraceful letter told them to ie. break the strike.

The strike got off to a good start, with management unable to get services running until past the morning peak, and then only token shuttles mainly for PR reasons.
In some ways, this dispute has been run better than previous ones. There has been more involvement of rank-and-file reps, especially through the strike committee. We struck for 48 hours rather than the usual ineffective 24-hour gesture. There has been more and better information from the union. The union has not let the fight for pay drag on for months past the due date. There has been a bit more effort to win public support.

But to win more, Tube workers also need: to all be in one union; democratic rank-and-file control over disputes; hardship payments for those who struggle during strikes; stronger workplace organisation on day-to-day issues as well as the big fights; to act as part of a wider workers' movement, taking on the politicians as well as the bosses.

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