The intransigent bosses at London Underground have once again forced the members of the RMT union to take industrial action in defence of public safety and jobs. The decision to axe all its ticket offices and make nearly 1,000 workers redundant is simply an exercise in cutting costs. The closure of ticket offices is overwhelmingly opposed by the general public, who see it as part of the erosion of the service. Rob Sewell reports on the latest action by the RMT.
The intransigent bosses at London Underground have once again forced the members of the RMT union to take industrial action in defence of public safety and jobs.
The decision of London Underground Ltd. (LUL) management to axe all its ticket offices and make nearly 1,000 workers redundant is simply an exercise in cutting costs. The closure of ticket offices is overwhelmingly opposed by the general public, who see it as part of the erosion of the service.
LUL management have used “modernisation” as the reason for the closures. But this is completely false. The cuts have nothing to do with modernisation and everything to do with saving money and reducing services. Not only will ticket staff lose their jobs, but this will also affect other grades.
Of course, the Evening Standard supports these cuts. “LU’s strategy for the Tube makes sense”, states its editorial, which then blames the RMT’s action as creating “chaos” and nothing more than a union “power struggle”! The issues of public safety are ignored completely. As expected, Boris Johnson has attacked the strikers, despite giving an undertaking that there would be no closures.
In February, both the RMT and TSSA took joint action over the proposed closures. Following a deal at ACAS, the unions and bosses agreed to a “station by station review”. It must be said in all honesty that was a dangerous proposal which could have divided the workforce and set station against station. It opened the door for possible step by step closure over a longer period. However, LUL broke even that promise and there was no review.
After the February strikes, meeting were held with management, but nothing was resolved. The LU bosses stuck to their original plans to close all offices.
The unions could either accept it or fight. Unfortunately, while opposed to the plans, TSSA did not take action, despite a mandate, together with the RMT. This is a mistake. The management will attempt to play on this disunity. It clearly shows to all tube workers the need for ONE UNION on the Underground to represent all workers.
Despite the failings of their leaders, TSSA and ASLEF workers have supported the RMT action. Pressure should be brought to bear on the other sister unions to join future action over closures. Simply folding their arms in protest will not shift LUL management. For that matter, if LU bosses can get away with closures of ticket offices, other workers on the Underground, including tube drivers, will be next in line for cuts and redundancies. Any fool knows it is better to fight together than to fight separately. The union leaders should put aside their pride and launch united action to save the service and jobs.
As John Leach, the RMT’s London transport regional organiser said, “London Underground has shown emphatically that when we stop taking action, it stops backing down. The company could not have made it clearer that if we want to stop these cuts and closures, we have to strike.”
- Support the Tube workers
- Reject management closure of ticket offices
- Defend jobs and services
- For industrial action involving all unions