The Grand Old Duke of the RMT

Submitted by Anon on 23 June, 2004 - 12:23

By a tube worker

The RMT have cancelled strike action on the Underground set for Thursday 10 June. They did this against the wishes of the union's branches, reps and the majority of members.
The members voted 80% yes to strike action. The Regional Council voted unanimously to put the first strike date on 10 June. The mandate could not have been clearer. And yet the RMT leadership has reneged on that for no good reason: was called off for nothing more than further talks.

Tube workers want an end to low pay, inequality and long, anti-social hours, We are sick and tired of years-long negotiations where management graciously acknowledge our aspirations but deliver nothing.

Bob Crow talks a good fight, but it is clear to anyone who had not already noticed that he is not very good at delivering it.

The decision is a slap in the face for RMT reps and activists, who worked hard to win a good ballot result and then to organise for the strike.

Bob Crow said:

"LUL has indicated that it is now prepared to negotiate seriously on all of our aspirations on pay and conditions".

But why trust LUL? For years, they have said that they are "negotiating seriously", but have left issues outstanding for years and years!

And there are no grounds to trust Ken Livingstone either.

This comes hot on the heels of last year's fiasco, when the national leadership called a snap referendum to accept a lousy offer, when the reps wanted to keep up a fight.

Over the last couple of years, the union has done the same thing in other parts of the railway industry - threaten a strike, have a ballot, then call it off. It is treating the members with contempt - marching us up the hill then marching us down again, in the style of the Grand Old Duke of York.

Instead of stunts and manipulation, we need a proper, thought-out strategy.

ASLEF and TSSA have talked about striking over pay this year, but have as yet done nothing about it. They can take no comfort from this criticism of RMT - they didn't call off strikes, because they never called them in the first place.

But the best way for RMT to pull ASLEF on board is to show our commitment to fighting over pay, not to back down and give them the perfect excuse not to fight.

Bob Crow owes RMT reps - and via them, the members - a full explanation of his actions. Then we need to recover the momentum lost by this betrayal, and get ourselves back on course for further action. Further negotiations should be fully scrutinised by the rank and file.

Branches should hold emergency meetings, and send resolutions to the RMT Executive and the AGM (27 June to 2 July). It should be a simple statement: the strike should not have been called off - put it back on!

Decisions on strikes should be taken differently. Whenever we have a dispute, the workers involved should elect a strike committee, which should run the show - everything from deciding demands and canvassing in the ballot, to setting strike dates and organising picketing.

We should campaign to change the unions' rules to enforce this way of working. Until then, should set up strike committees and pressure the Executive to carry out their decisions.

Trade unions exist to win for their members, not to serve us up to management on a plate. We need to fight to make them fit for the job.

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