No Strikes Before Job Cuts?

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Fri, 21/01/2011 - 14:29,

It now seems clear that RMT and TSSA will not name any more strike dates before the station job cuts come in on 6th February. This does not mean the dispute is over but it is difficult to see what we can achieve without any strike dates before the implementation.

In the words of one member of station staff, this demoralising decision 'feels like a huge shame and a betrayal, they have given up so early'. We should figure out how to salvage this fight in whatever way we can, but it does feel very much like the unions have given up.

So why back off now? This decision has come just as the cuts are about to come in. LU has just begun a review of the job cuts with the unions. Tubeworker, and many union activists and members, argued that we should name a 48-hour strike to pressure LU to suspend the cuts' implementation until a thorough review had taken place. Strike dates could have pressured LU to take the review seriously, so we might have been able to save a significant number of jobs out of it.

The decision not to strike before implementation will compromise future disputes. It will send the signal to LU that the unions will crumble under the least bit of pressure.

It feels like the people high up in the unions don't have any fight in them. We put ourselves on the line, lose money and work hard for disputes on the ground. They don't give us the backing we deserve.

Some argue that we could not carry on striking because the mood had died down. We agree that leaving members in the dark for two months without naming any further action damaged the momentum. That's why we argued for naming more dates in December, and escalating the action much sooner. But there was still time and commitment to fight, especially as staff faced the reality of the awful new rosters, and with confident leadership and hard work, morale would have built up again.

This all brings back bad memories of how RMT resolved last year's pay dispute (a dispute that the other unions had never even taken part in). Fighting for a few days, killing the dispute with months of silence, then finally putting it out of its misery. Although it is much more willing to go into a fight than the other unions, RMT seems to do so hoping for the best, but then lacks the courage to see it through.

Although our morale is drained, we must not give up on our union. We must organise inside the union to prevent such things happening again!

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