London Underground has a hat-trick of attacks against us - Ticket Office closures, the new Rule Books, and the ongoing plan to privatise the East London Line. All attack our jobs and conditions, all cut standards for passengers, all are motivated by cost-saving and profit-making.
LUL plans to close 40 Ticket Offices, with loads more offices facing cuts in hours and therefore jobs. 270 jobs are to go - 200 full-time and 70 part-time. Union branches should be organising leafleting, petitioning and protest stalls outside the stations involved. Of course, it would help if the union head offices produced the leaflets and petitions.
The New Rule Book is the No-Rule Book - it doesn't contain rules, only guidance. It is all about 'efficiency', saving money and maximising profits for the Infracos. It removes several vital safety procedures and strip some grades of their responsibilities, paving the way for job cuts.
Apparently, one of LUL's big cheeses has said that if people don't feel comfortable with the new Rule Books, they can work to the existing Working Reference Manual. But working to two Rule Books is a recipe for disaster - and quite possibly, death.
The unions urgently need a strategy against these threats. The sad fact is that so far, management have set the agenda and have out-manoevred the unions. The East London Line campaign has faded, and as we write, there has been no publicity against the Ticket Office closures. It took assertive pressure from rank-and-file RMT activists to get the union to move towards a dispute on the Rule Book, but at the first opportunity, the Executive used a legal technicality as a pretext to call it off. Full-time release reps (unlike on the mainline, LUL workers have quite a few of these) have not always been on the ball or reporting back to members well enough.
We have a fight on our hands, but at the moment, the union leaderships have not shown themselves to be up to that fight. It will need strong rank-and-file organisation to put on the pressure and take control so we can win.