RMT has now submitted its pay claim to LU; the claim is online on the RMT London Calling website, and can be read here.
It’s good that the union is publicising the full contents of the claim to all members, so we know exactly what it is we’re fighting for. It’s also good that the demands for a minimum flat-rate pay increase, which will be worth more to lower-paid grades, and the demand for a 32-hour week are prominently included.
There’s an ongoing debate about whether the union should’ve specified a figure in the claim. Tubeworker believes it should. Several RMT branch submissions to the consultation around pay called for a figure of £2,000. Having a clear, concrete, pay demand to fight for, rather than the somewhat vague and generic language in the claim, would give our pay fight more clarity and focus. If you agree, why not take a motion to your RMT branch proposing that the union submits an addendum to the claim specifying that our minimum demand is for flat-rate increase of £2,000.
What’s also key now is the kind of pay campaign we run. We’ve been late out of the gates on this one: lots of activists on the job were calling for the pay claim to be collated and submitted a lot earlier, so we might stand a chance of winning a new deal in time for the expiry of the current one in April. We were saying ”Start the pay fight now!” in May 2018!
Now that the claim has gone in, we shouldn’t let the company dictate the pace of negotiations by sitting on it, getting back to us in a few months, telling us they’re offering a 0.5% pay increase instead, whereupon we allow ourselves to be dragged into haggling over the company’s derisory offer.
Let’s have a positive, proactive campaign where we seek to win demands that we’ve decided for ourselves, rather than simply reacting to the bosses. The union should set a deadline for the company to say yes or no to our demands, and if they so no (as they almost inevitably will), we should declare a dispute and begin balloting. To stand the best chance of getting a result in that ballot, we need to start campaigning now: promoting the contents of the claim, producing workplace-specific propaganda explaining how each demand would improve conditions for different grades, and getting our fellow workers ready to fight.
We’ve had several years of fighting defensive battles to try to blunt the sharpest edges of management attacks. We’ve now get a chance to get back on the front foot. Let’s take it.