Vic Line Drivers' Strike Success

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Thu, 23/04/2009 - 20:49,

An overwhelming majority of drivers from Seven Sisters depot took part in the yesterday’s Victoria Line strike. It was a spectacular display of solidarity, the first time a strike has closed the Victoria Line in its history. Estimates say that only about five out of 180 drivers turned up to work. ASLEF drivers joined in and came along to the picket lines.

One activist said, ‘It was a great success, and also great fun! Looking forward to the next one. All members are willing, that is unless management crumble and do the right thing!’

Picket lines of up to 30 were lively, with lots of rank and file participation, plenty of public support and visitors from other work locations and organisations. There was a BBQ for breakfast. Picketers set up a desk and chair at the Seven Sisters picket line, with the sign, ‘We are available for negotiations at any time’, a cheeky message to managers that this is what will happen again if they persistently ignore our demands.

On the picket line, it was great to see managers’ desperate faces, as they were hit by the reality that NO ONE was turning up. It was politically important to them to run some kind of service. Their attempts to twist drivers’ arms had failed: the drivers had made up their minds.

This shows that, although we are almost programmed to do what our managers say, when we get organised, we can stand up against them for what we think is right. They can’t drive trains, they can’t run the Underground. When our determination proves their powers of persuasion futile, suddenly they don’t seem so powerful after all. It shows us how much we can achieve over the next months in our network-wide dispute over pay, jobs and bullying. Management don’t really have the power to break a strike if everyone stands together. They don’t decide if a strike is successful: we do!

The general public think that we go on strike to piss them off. But we do it because it hurts our managers: their bonuses, their careers all depend on meeting London Underground targets. In fact, picketers were handing out public leaflets about the safety issues behind the strike, the demand to install Correct Side Door Enable. Station staff experienced surprisingly little abuse. Some customers were clearly impressed at what we can pull off, some were openly supportive, especially when they heard what it was about. We as staff and as trade unionists are not as unpopular as management and the right wing press tell us we are. This is another important message to take into the coming strike. We do have support out there!

This demonstration of what we are capable of was uplifting for members across the Underground. To anyone who thought drivers had forgotten how to fight, this proves they can. When we go out in a month, we will go together.

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