By a London Underground worker
Simultaneous Tube and rail strikes are now confirmed for the end of June. On 29 and 30 June 7,500 workers at London Underground and the privatised contractor Metronet will be striking over pay and working hours, while on 30 June a similar number at Network Rail will take action over management's decision to close the company's final salary pensions scheme.
The decision to co-ordinate the action gives RMT members in both sectors a fighting chance, as long as we fight with a clear strategy.
The Tube strike comes after management responded to the union's demand for a 32 hour, four day week, a basic salary of £22,000 for station assistants and equalisation of travel facilities with a 3% pay offer, an extra 0.5% in return for increased "flexibility and a new approach" and a 36 hour week "as soon as possible". The leadership's welcome decision to reinstate the strike after cancelling it earlier this month should not cause us to forget Bob Crow's serial record of cancelling strikes at the last minute and hiding his lack of willingness to fight management behind a curtain of radical rhetoric. We need to keep the union's basic goals clear in our minds and conduct the fight in accordance with them.
On Network Rail, a militant campaign is if anything even more essential, since the pensions issue is a zero-sum game - either management rail caves into the union's demands and reopens the final salary scheme or it doesn't. This may be a long drawn out fight, meaning that solidarity, both in terms of action from other sections of the union and political support from the broader labour movement will be essential. There is immense potential for such solidarity, particularly given wider ferment around the issues of pensions and the grotesque decision of Network Rail's directors to award themselves six-figure bonuses the same month that they announce the closure of the final salary scheme.
In both disputes, activists need to fight for decisions to be made by accountable committees of branch representatives, drawing in support and solidarity action from members of the other rail unions wherever possible.
These are fights we can win, but we cannot rely on the RMT leadership to win them for us.
A rally and lobby for re-nationalisation of the railway
Tuesday 20 July
11am assemble opposite main entrance to House of Commons
12.30-2pm lobby your MP
2-4pm: rally, committee room 14