Tube: striking for jobs and pay

Submitted by Anon on 13 June, 2009 - 9:35

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

• 1000 jobs are at risk on London Underground and up to 3000 in Transport for London as part of a £2.4 billion cuts package. LUL have refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, despite signing up to a “no compulsory redundancies” agreement in 2001.

• London Underground had been offering a five year pay offer that would have amounted to a pay cut.

• LUL management have been breaching disciplinary and attendance procedures and have encouraged aggressive and punitive behaviour by local managers.

The strike got off to a good start on Tuesday with management unable to get services running until well into the morning peak, and then only little token shuttles which were mainly for PR reasons.

Just as the strike began, RMT and management reached a deal at ACAS. Then LUL managers “got a phone call" and pulled out. This could only have been someone high up the chain of command in City Hall — maybe Boris Johnson trying to make the whole thing serve the interests of himself and the Conservative Party?!

Perhaps management hoped that the strike would collapse, thinking that staff will have listened to their anti-strike propaganda and turned up for work thinking that an agreement had been reached. They may also have been banking on the separate ASLEF which organises a number of Tube drivers, delivering them a service, their General Secretary having sent a disgraceful letter to members telling them to break the strike.

Unfortunately for LUL/TfL management, most staff know when they are being spun a line and not all ASLEF members do as their leaders tell them: some respected picket lines and helped keep the action strong.

What did the abandoned deal amount to? According to Bob Crow, who was negotiating for the union at ACAS, it contained the following:

• Further discussion on the two- or four-year pay offers that management had made a few days earlier.

• ACAS would look at seven cases where management had unfairly sacked or disciplined staff.

• Some moves to rein in management excesses in their implementation of sickness absence policies.

• Some agreement on compulsory redundancies.

There were some advances in this agreement. The “no compulsory redundancies” policy would have covered most staff, but left out those groups who were most immediately threatened with redundancy. The movement on sickness policies also represented a backing down by management. But the deal was far from ideal.

One thing is for sure: this action should put a final nail in the coffin of the 24-hour gesture strikes of the past. By striking for 48 hours, we come across as much more serious, and management found it increasingly difficult to keep the service running as time went on through the two days.

After a good sleep following picket line duties, reps and activists will discuss where we go from here, with many of us keen to see the union declare further action to keep up momentum and bring management back to the table with a better offer. The strike committee, which has played a crucial role in the strength of the campaign so far, meets again on Monday 15 June, and will doubtless discuss the contents of the scuppered deal, the experience of the strike and a review of the issues.

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