Members of the RMT union on London Underground are now balloting to take action to stop job cuts.
The company is cutting up to 800 stations jobs, and staff in service control.
With 300 drivers more than it needs, the company seems to be sacking drivers for mistakes that would have got a warning a couple of years ago. Leaked documents have revealed plans to cut jobs in engineering and fleet.
No job on the Underground is secure.
We understand that (the clerical union) TSSA's ballot is not far behind, but have yet to hear what (drivers’ union) ASLEF will be doing.
Strikes should not just be one-off protest gestures to “let off steam”. We need to show the employer that we are serious about stopping these cuts: when the union names its first strike, it should name the second one too, so everyone is clear that if we don't win straightaway, we will not give up and go away.
The unions need to provide hardship payments to members who will struggle with lengthy action. Unite gave BA cabin crew £30 for each strike day.
And we need to use any “action short of strikes” in an imaginative way, to maintain momentum between strikes and involve more members.
Rank-and-file organisation and leadership is essential. The delay of this ballot delayed shows us that union bureaucracies can be slow and unresponsive, and can be more concerned about staying in control than getting action organised.
We all need to spread the word round the workplaces, giving each other the confidence that we don't have to accept job cuts. Tube workers need to encourage all their workmates to vote Yes in the ballot, give out union leaflets and information to counteract management propaganda.
Our excellent “SOS: Staff Our Stations” campaign has raised passengers' awareness of the attacks on stations jobs and ticket office opening hours, and has kept up the momentum of our campaign. A public and political campaign should continue alongside our industrial fight.
We should also link up with other public service workers, and service users.
And while our jobs are under threat, so is our “social wage” — with benefits and tax credits being cut or frozen, and government departments having their budgets slashed by 25%, we could all soon see less money coming in and more going out.