Solid action takes grade consolidation fight forward

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Wed, 01/12/2021 - 09:25,
Seven Sisters picket

The strike action on 26 and 27 November caused widespread disruption across the network. Solid pickets across the affected lines meant bosses were often unable to run even token services. Attempts to run a shuttle service between Cockfosters and Arnos Grove on the Picc soon came to nothing.

Central London had no Piccadilly and Central line trains for the whole of Friday and the other lines were severely disrupted, running maybe just a 30% and mostly unusable service.

RMT drivers remain determined to defeat grade consolidation, an attack on jobs and work-life balance. This is the bosses first assault on our terms and conditions, the prelude to the attacks on our pensions, and other terms and conditions yet to come. Despite Aslef senior reps signing off the deal it’s implementation is not a foregone conclusion. Aslef members in many areas showed their respect for the pickets. Aslef members, many of whom privately do not support this deal should continue to respect the RMT pickets as the strike action continues through December. And they should not give up kicking up a stink about it in their union.

The momentum of Friday and Saturday’s strike must be kept up right through to the next all-out Night Tube line strike on 18 December. Picket lines must continue and grow on the Friday and Saturday nights on the Victoria and Central. Drivers from other lines are already discussing how to support the next set of strikes. We won’t let the cold weather put us off!

The solidarity from station staff, fleet, engineering and other grades is also vital for this dispute to win. Night Tube station staff in particular who face the potential of one of the few lines of promotion that would maintain their hours being cut off should be drawn into the fight.

As usual the media kept up their tirade against “greedy” drivers, even in a dispute where the RMT have rejected more money… At the same time the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan continued his attempt to straddle two camps. On the one hand Khan says he is all for workers joining unions but he balks any time they take action. Not only did Khan denounce the strikes for trying to halt the opening up of the economy following the pandemic and shamefully suggested the RMT is indifferent to the reopening of Night Tube. Unlike Khan tube workers know that the Night Tube is only safe when it is well staffed on its stations, and when drivers are not fatigued. Pretending the strikes are a threat to women’s safety is low even for a mayor who continues to refuse to bring the lowest paid and majority women workforce, London Underground cleaners back in house, let alone provide them free travel and the same benefits of other directly employed workers.

Khan also repeated the shameful lie that RMT had refused to meet LU bosses on 25 November. LU bosses clearly feeling under pressure, had sold Khan this lie when they knew it not to have been the case. Misinformation like this about the strike is par for the course from the right wing media but it marks yet another Labour politician, a supposed representative of the labour movement denouncing one of the few weapons workers have at their disposal to take effective action. Labour party members and representatives that support the strike should vocally oppose him and hold him to account.

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