Workers employed by Tube Lines, the company which provides essential maintenance and repair work across London Underground, will strike for three days from Tuesday 24 April.
The workers are fighting to win a levelling-up of pensions rights and travel concessions. Tube Lines was a private consortium formed to take up maintenance of the Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee Lines (as well as emergency response services across the whole network) as part of the disastrous Public-Private Partnership scheme which the Labour government imposed in 2003. Following the collapse of PPP, TfL brought Tube Lines back in-house in 2010, giving its shareholders, Ferrovial and Bechtel, a £310 million payout.
Workers who have been working for Tube Lines since before the PPP sell-off have the same pension and travel rights as all other directly-employed London Underground workers, but Tube Lines staff employed since then have worse conditions. Their union, the RMT, has been making renewed demands for conditions to be levelled-up since the PPP ended, but bosses have been intransigent.
One excuse from management has been that they can not grant the union’s demands until the future ownership of Tube Lines is determined later this year. This is a clear signal that TfL intends to re-privatise it, the most likely new owner being Amey (owned by Ferrovial), which was kept on to help run Tube Lines when it was brought into public ownership. The prospect of re-privatisation is even more reason for Tube Lines workers to fight on this issue now.
Workers voted by 81% to take strike action, and by 90% to take industrial action short of a strike.
A walkout by Tube Lines workers could cause widespread disruption, as it could make large parts of the network unsafe to use.