stop the union busters – victory to the rmt

Don’t scab for the bosses
Don’t listen to their lies
Poor folks ain’t got a chance
Unless they organize
Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?
Pete Seeger

by Chris Kane

The National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have called a 48-hour strike forJune 9th to 11th on the London Underground and Transport for London after workers voted by a huge majority to take action over pay, jobs and justice.

Transport for London is cutting 1,000 jobs, tearing up previous agreements on no compulsory redundancies. TfL are trying to impose a five year pay deal starting with a derisory 1% and for 2009 and RPI+0.5% for the next four years. This amounts to nothing more than a pay cut year after year, they refuse even to consider the RMT’s one year pay claim. Across the London Underground management have been engaged in a campaign of bullying and harassment of staff, ignoring established procedures on discipline and attendance. All this amounts to a premeditated bosses offensive against the RMT, the largest union of rail workers. The conduct of management has been nothing other than a provocation, the Tories want a fight – they have even brought in a union busting firm of consultants from The Burke Group.

This dispute is the first round of a fight with a Tory Party intent on carrying out wide scale cuts in the public sector. Whilst some sections of our movement are currently obsessed by the events of the Westminster Village they need to wake up to the reality of what is at stake in this dispute – if the strongest section of the trade union movement, both politically and industrially, suffers a defeat it will be a set back for the entire movement.

All members of the labour movement need to mobilise in solidarity with the RMT: on this anniversary year of the Great Miners’ Strike, we should remember the important principle that you don’t cross picket lines! Decades of the anti-union laws and the union bureaucracy’s accommodation with them have led to the false belief that members of other unions can legitimately break strikes. This despite the fact that for years the other Tube unions ASLEF and TSSA have benefited from the strength of the RMT to secure deals for their members. This same approach is being repeated: ASLEF have instructed their members to cross picket lines, a divisive and potentially disastrous route as a defeat for the RMT will inevitably leave the weaker TSSA and ASLEF members complexly vulnerable.

The RMT has issued an appeal to ASLEF train drivers to take a principled stand, which The Commune publishes below.

Dear Aslef Member

I am writing to you as a fellow Train Operators to ask you to support our strike action which will take place from June 9th to June 11th. I am not asking that you leave Aslef to join the RMT; all I am asking is that during this dispute, members of both unions stick together. After all, we have a lot more in common with each other than we do with LUL management. LUL’s boss, Boris Johnson, has a deep seated political hatred for all unions and an ideological aim of seeing us broken on the Underground. We cannot afford to allow this to happen.

Industrial relations under the previous Mayor of London, whilst not ideal, were a lot better than they are with the current administration. All over London Underground, members of both unions are facing unprecedented attacks on our conditions; bullying, harassment and victimisation by management are on the rise; management are ignoring policies and tearing up agreements. This won’t be stopped by ignoring it.

We are also, as a grade, in danger of sleepwalking into a 5 year cycle of wage cuts in real terms. LUL claims that because of uncertainty in the world’s economy we need a 5 year deal to provide stability: this is the economic theory of the lunatic asylum! If none of the world’s so-called experts know what is going to happen in the next 5 months why should we be tied down to a massive 5 year deal? It is also no coincidence that a 5 year deal takes us beyond the London Olympics.

I don’t know why your Trade Union leaders have so far failed to challenge LUL on its proposals. They may believe that if they wait long enough Gerry Duffy, the LUL employee relations director, will have a change of heart. The problem here is that Duffy is no longer in charge – Johnson is. And while your leadership is waiting, the management is preparing for an all-out assault on your wages and conditions. We in the RMT don’t believe we can afford to wait any longer – we have to take them on to protect what we have.

I realise that losing money through strike action is something that nobody wants, but the alternative – to allow LUL and the Mayor to get away with wholesale assaults on wages and conditions – will be far more costly in the long term. I urge you to support us by joining the RMT for the duration of the strike – that way you are legally protected from any management victimisation. Train operators on the Vic Line have shown that members of both unions working together can give LUL a bloody nose; imagine what we can achieve by members of all unions standing shoulder to shoulder across the combine!


One thought on “stop the union busters – victory to the rmt

  1. Small point, but does start to undermine the whole argument – how is RPI+0.5% a pay cut, year after year?


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