Britain: Battles ahead on London Underground

Strike will start today

On 24 August, reps from transport unions TSSA and RMT met to discuss the first ever joint strike between the two unions on London Underground. This was in opposition to the plans to cut 800 jobs of station staff and to close ticket offices.

RMT regional official Steve Hedley spoke first and explained that the industrial and political battle is likely to be a long one. He said there will be a work-to-rule and a one-day strike every month, if necessary for six months.

TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty made a fiery speech, saying that the TSSA had higher support for strike action than the RMT, for the first time ever. "The view of the members of both unions is that enough is enough. There are 18 millionaires in the 23-strong cabinet. They will not be affected by cuts. Cameron’s mantra of: ’We are all in this together’ is nonsense. But we are all in this together as far as the RMT and TSSA are concerned.

"London mayor Boris Johnson has criticised us and said that we have no mandate. But 35% of our members voted for strike action. [A 3:1 majority]. On that basis the Tory government has no mandate either.

"These cuts are only the tip of the iceberg… The TUC will have to work out a strategy. We will have to take wider trade union action as well as building a campaign in the local communities.

"Taking 800 jobs out of the underground will affect services and safety. 7,500 hours have been taken out of booking office opening times. We can either be in the vanguard of the fight against cuts or we can sink to our knees and be taken out bit by bit.

"I am proud to stand by Bob Crow and call him a comrade. His fight is my fight".

Bob Crow added that working people did not contribute to the economic crisis and he emphasised the importance of the unity between TSSA and RMT.

The RMT/TSSA 24-hour strike, affecting London Underground (LUL) station staff, drivers and signallers, will begin at 21.00 on 6 September. Further 24-hour strikes will take place on 3 October, and 2 and 28 November. An indefinite overtime ban will start on 6 September.

Ex-Metronet engineering staff will also start a 24-hour strike at 17.00 on 6 September, and then strike on further days to coincide with the LUL workers as above.

Nearly 200 Alstom-Metro maintenance workers on the Jubilee and Northern lines will also strike over pay and conditions. The first 24-hour strike will start at 19:00 on 5 September, with further action scheduled for 2 October; 1 November and 27 November. An indefinite overtime ban will also begin on 5 September.

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September 2010