Library workers in Lambeth struck on Monday 8 February in an ongoing fight to stop the closure or privatisation of many of the borough′s libraries.
Library workers in Greenwich and Bromley also struck on Monday 8 February The strike in Lambeth was well supported across all ten of the borough′s libraries, with all libraries shut and large picket lines. Activists from other local trade unions came down to show solidarity on the picket lines.
In the evening Lambeth council cabinet met to discuss and vote on the proposals for a third time (the final full-council decision is expected to be in April). Unison members and campaigners from Friends of the Library groups protested outside the meeting before storming the hall and disrupting the meeting by having a ″read-in″. Individual activists stood up and read aloud from a book, each one being replaced by another when they were told to sit down. Councillors were forced to move their meeting to a different location and called the police on campaigners. However the police were somewhat bemused to be confronted by furious library campaigners demanding that they arrest the councillors for the crime of stealing the libraries!
On 9 February, Unison members and library campaign groups from Lambeth marched to Parliament from Waterloo library to join the national Stand up for libraries lobby of Parliament.
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Tube station strikes called off
The RMT union has settled its dispute with London Underground over “Fit for the Future”, a radical restructure of the way Tube stations are staffed, calling off strikes planned for 6-8 February.
LU promised some concessions over issues including weekend working and short-notice shift changes, but some union reps and activists were frustrated by the union’s strategy. A union rep told Solidarity: “There’s still a fight to be had over ‘Fit for the Future’. Even with the concessions we’ve won, it’s still a job cuts programme that will turn work/life balance upside down for many station staff. Settling the dispute without consulting members first was particularly disappointing. It means we now need to re-ballot to take any action on this issue in future.”
Tube unions are also set to begin conducting referenda of their members over LU’s offer to settle a parallel dispute over pay and 24-hour running (“Night Tube”). RMT, Aslef, and TSSA are recommending acceptance. Unite remains opposed to the offer. Rank-and-file socialist bulletin Tubeworker is also calling for a no vote, arguing that the proposed pay settlement does not reflect increased living costs, and that a four-year deal will tie unions’ hands while leaving management free to plan more cuts. The RMT begins its referendum on 11 February.
Track workers announce strikes
London Underground track workers have announced an extensive programme of strikes in their dispute over safe working procedures.
Strikes will take place on 12-13 February, 6 March, 25-26 March, 27-28 March, 24 April, 15 May, and 12 June. The RMT union says that LU’s current procedures put workers’ lives in danger. A statement from the RMT’s London Underground Engineering branch said: “We firmly believe that there have been enough incidents and lack of certainty over the process that someone will be hurt or killed. There is no reason LUL cannot suspend the use of Section 15 [the regulation governing how the track is accessed for engineering works], which is a process they already admit was flawed and rushed in too fast. The reality is a life of a track worker is not worth risking by a rushed implementation of a process that casualises track access to the level of the keystone cops. Therefore LUL have been informed that the strikes and action short will remain in place and that we will protect our members in all ways possible.”