Threat Of Strikes Forces New Offer From LU: Keep Strikes On To Win More!

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Sun, 29/01/2017 - 21:57,

RMT has named new strike dates in the station staffing dispute, from 18:00 on 5 February to 10:00 on 6 February, and from 10:00 on 7 February to 00:59 on 8 February.

In response, LU has made us a new offer. They're proposing to reinstate 325 jobs, re-staff most (but not all) the control rooms they de-staffed, and establish a promotion pathway to CSA1 for existing CSA2s.

This all requires a bit of unpicking.

Firstly, let's remind ourselves of the basic lesson here: direct action gets the goods. LU is only making a new offer because of our ongoing overtime ban, our magnificent strike on 8-9 January, and the threat of further action to come.

We've already pushed the bosses a long way. When this dispute began, they were intransigent, insisting that not a single job cut would be reversed, and that the CSA2 grade was non-negotiable. One month into an overtime ban and suddenly they were offering 250 jobs. A fortnight after our strike, and that number had increased again. Under pressure from the threat of further strikes, suddenly they've started budging on the CSA2 issue as well.

Let's look at the detail of the offer, though: is 325 jobs enough to address the crisis of under-staffing and lone working? Is anything short of a commitment that all control rooms will be staffed satisfactory? And does the promotion pathway for CSA2s (the wording of which in the text of the offer is profoundly ambiguous) go for enough towards resolving the huge problems created by the creation of a two-tier CSA grade?

Tubeworker's answers are no, no, and no.

It is, however, undeniable that this latest offer is a vast leap forward for our bosses, considering their position when we began the dispute. Should we therefore react by saying, "they're meeting us halfway, let's return the favour and call off our strike"? This did indeed seem to be the attitude of TSSA leaders in response to an earlier, worse, offer to resolve the dispute (luckily they were forced to keep their action on thanks to a revolt by workplace reps and activists).

Whether being met "halfway" would be worth settling for is arguable in itself (Tubeworker would argue not). But this offer doesn't even do that. 325, while a significant improvement on zero, is still fewer than half the jobs axed under "Fit for the Future". We might not end up with everything we want, but why would we let the bosses up off the ropes when we've got all the momentum and it's clear they're vulnerable to pressure?

If anything, we should increase it. Tubeworker endorses the motion, passed at a recent RMT Bakerloo Line branch meeting, which argues that further strikes should:

  • Be longer than 48 hours
  • Seek to maximise disruption, for example by taking place on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Involve Night Tube staff, with at least one strike day starting or finishing at 23:01 on a Friday
  • Be announced as part of an ongoing programme of action, also involving demos, rallies etc., similar the approach RMT has pursued in the dispute on Southern
  • Coordinate as much as possible with other disputes, including the Central Line Drivers’ dispute and the Southern dispute.
  • We like that RMT is taking a creative approach to the next strikes, calling out particular shifts to maximise disruption in the morning and evening peak but minimising the number of days' pay members will lose. Tubeworker has argued for this creative approach to action for some time and we're glad to see it taken up. If swiftly followed by further action, either additional selective strikes or further all-out strikes, we're confident we can push the employer even closer to conceding our demands.

    The public rally the RMT plans on 1 February is also an excellent initiative that could help situate our industrial dispute in a wider struggle for safe, accessible public transport.

    All in all, Tubeworker reckons we're a long way from having to settle for a compromise deal. Station staff are still up for the fight, so let's keep the strikes on and push for more!

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