Union leaders have once again told workers to prepare for strikes, only to demobilise them at the last moment. The RMT union has suspended London Underground strikes set for Wednesday and Friday this week. It’s a rotten move that will encourage more job cuts and reduce safety. And it’s a bad precedent for future battles over pay and pensions.
“We shouldn’t have backed down. We had a real fight to have this action and now it’s been cancelled without the real victory we need urgently,” one Tube worker told Socialist Worker. On Tuesday the executive endorsed a 21-14 vote taken by reps the day before.
It accepted a deal that blunts some of the bosses’ attacks but leaves the main thrust of their cuts unchanged. It will still see 300 job losses—a reduction of 213 from the original plan. As a “sweetener” 27 customer service assistants at Level 2 will be upgraded so they are safety qualified and receive enhanced pay.
“That’s hardly going to transform anything,” the worker added. The union’s rush away from action will do nothing to address the crisis on the Tube. In the run-up to the strike, an RMT rep and station staff member on London Underground wrote in Socialist Worker, “In stations, new rosters have been imposed that have slashed staff numbers.
“We exist in a state of constant chaos. We get emails appealing for overtime several times a day from across the network, and station closures have rocketed. More stations are left unstaffed or have staff working alone, increasing their risk of suffering violence and abuse.
“By striking we’re also standing up for a decent service for passengers and their safety. On top of that our pension remains under threat and management wants to change things such as our attendance at work policy.” It took real rank and file pressure to get the union to call the strikes. Much more action, not bad deals, is needed to win.