Tunnel Vision

Preparing the Tube for Privatisation

From the time Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979, the government and its lackeys in London Underground's management launched attack after attack on the Tube and its workers. These attacks helped to prepare London Underground for privatisation.

They also provoked fightbacks from Tube workers and our unions. Some won, some lost, all provided lessons that we could have learned from for our fight against PPP.

The transport strikes of the 70s and 80s were the only force that Thatcher could not stop.

British Rail Privatisation: what it means and why it happened

British Rail privatisation is the most unpopular government policy in a generation. Opinion polls repeatedly show that around three-quarters of the UK population want the whole railway industry brought back into public ownership immediately.

That is not surprising. Dozens of people died at Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potters Bar in crashes that can be directly attributed to privatisation. The service has worsened whilst prices have risen. And just to rub people's noses in it, fat cat rail company directors have paid themselves huge bonuses.

Fat Controller

This article is reprinted from the June 1997 issue of 'Off The Rails', a rank-and-file bulletin produced by Workers' Libety and others which will shortly be re-launched.

'Fat Controller' was a regular feature of 'Off The Rails', casting a satirical eye at the antics of the rail employers. It was written by Rob Dawber, a long-standing Workers' Liberty member and RMT activist, who died in 2001 from mesothelioma caused by expsoure to asbestos while working in the railway industry.
Hi There.
Fat Controller here!

Good to speak with you again.

The Labour Party: what went wrong?

- How the party that nationalised the railways in 1948 ended up announcing Tube privatisation in 1998 -

Laws Against Trade Unions

How the British state legislated against free trade unions in the last two decades

For the last 23 years, successive governments have consistently introduced legislation to curtail the action of free trade unionism in the UK. Theirs was a long-term strategy in response to the growth in militant trade unionism from the 1970s. The laws introduced in the 1980s curtailed existing immunities and made solidarity action illegal.

The fight against Tube privatisation reviewed (part 1)

This (long) article tells the story of New Labour's 'Public-Private Partnership' for London Underground.

Announced in 1998, it was originally scheduled to be implemented by 2000, but the strength of the campaign against it forced that back by three years. But the campaign against it was flawed.

The fight against Tube privatisation reviewed (part 2)

The second part of this article takes us from the RMT settling its strike action in late spring 2001 through to the Government's eventual victory in 2003.

You can read part 1 of this article here.

9 May 2001 - RMT announces further strikes on 4 and 6 June

Where next?

As we publish this pamphlet, London Underground is one year into the Public-Private Partnership. Everything that PPP's opponents, especially the unions, said about it has proved true.

A Workers' and Passengers' Plan

Just say 'no'? A positive alternative

From the Workers' Liberty pamphlet Tunnel Vision: London Underground's Public-Private Partnership and the fight against it.

Year on year, we have faced attacks both by management and government. The result is that we have had to fight a series of defensive battle, to at best just stand still. We are always responding to management's agenda, rather than putting our own needs and views across. So we are stereotyped as 'dinosaurs' who just say 'no' all the time.

Rail Unions in Politics: the Future

One of the reasons that Blair was able to push through PPP is that the trade union bureaucracy allowed him to. RMT's Vernon Hince gave Blair an easy ride during his years on Labour's Executive. Although there was more protest noise during Mick Rix's reign, ASLEF has put up little fight within Labour. And TSSA has been so compliant that the Government has rewarded its former General Secretary Richard Rosser with a seat in the House of Lords.

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