The Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT) is planning a London-wide labour movement and community campaign against a 12.5% cut in central government funding to Transport for London announced in George Osborne’s June spending review.
A policy passed by the union’s General Grades Committee said: “We are already seeing attempts to make cuts — for example, London Underground ticket office closures, the removal of guards on London Overground, the sale of significant Transport for London property, and funding cuts to the LT Museum.
“This further savage cut will see transport services pared, fares rise, improvement works scrapped, safety standards compromised, and the capital’s transport infrastructure deteriorate. It will bring about attacks on working conditions and jobs, at a time when London needs more employment opportunities, not fewer. It will be working-class communities, and those who should be able to rely on public transport — such as elderly and disabled people and those who can not afford private transport — who will lose out the most.”
It plans a demonstration on 8 October, when Parliament reopens, and to promote a “Workers’ and Passengers’ Plan” as a positive alternative to cuts.
Under the pressure of cuts, London Overground has already announced a plan to cut 130 guards’ jobs and move to “Driver Only Operation” on its trains.
RMT began ballots of its guard members for strikes and action short of strikes on 31 July, with the ballots due to close on 15 August.
A union statement said: “The fight to defend 130 safety-critical guards’ jobs on London Overground will be centre stage in RMT’s overall battle to defend jobs and safety on London’s transport services. RMT recognises that this lethal proposals has been brought about as result of the 12.5% cut in TfL funding announced in George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review. RMT has made it crystal clear that those cuts will be resisted by this union with all means at our disposal, including industrial action.
“The news that millions of passengers are to be put at risk through plans to throw the guards off London Overground trains on north London routes has already sent shockwaves through transport services and is clearly a foretaste of what is to come.
“We can expect many more of these attacks on jobs and safety as TFL slash hundreds of millions from their budget at Government behest. They will be met with the fiercest possible resistance from RMT as we link up the groups of workers in the firing line.”
Tubeworker and Off The Rails, Workers’ Liberty industrial bulletins for London Underground and mainline railway workers respectively, have produced a special joint bulletin for the dispute. It argues: “As workers, withdrawing our labour is the most powerful weapon we have to stop our bosses from doing things which will harm workers’ livelihoods and passengers’ safety.
“The union position in this dispute should be non-negotiable: not one single cut. Management have already tried to shift the goalposts by drawing dinstinctions between compulsory and voluntary redundancies. Tubeworker and Off The Rails believe that job cuts have to be opposed, however management tries to make them.
“RMT members on London Overground should convene a strike committee to oversee the dispute and decide what tactics and strategies are necessary to beat the bosses.”
• Download the bulletin: bit.ly/tw-otr