As we write, RMT's ballot for strike action over Tube pay has come back with a huge mandate for action. On a turnout of about 50%, 2,271 (76%) voted to strike, 705 (24%) against.
But the leadership may be preparing to back down rather than fight, hinting that they now see the only problem with LUL’s offer as "strings". But the offer itself is crap - a 3-year deal with rises each year only a fraction above inflation.
This is a critical fight. LUL, and Mayor Ken behind them, want to take on and beat the unions in order to have a tame workforce for the 2012 Olympics and beyond. The other unions have rolled over - TSSA having accepted the offer months back, and ASLEF now asking their members to endorse it in a referendum.
RMT at least has been prepared to fight. But for most of last year, there was little information from the union and a strategy that relied on waiting patiently for LUL to give in. But the company has (predictably) not given in, so members have been left confused about the issues and desperate for their overdue pay rise. RMT now has to wake up to the fact that the employer is serious and fight fire with fire.
LUL has said that it will give the pay rise to members of the unions that have accepted the offer. This is a stunt to undermine RMT, which must get the arguments out to staff to ensure that LUL's attempt at bribery does not work.
We must name strike dates right away. Members cannot stomach any more delay, and LUL is more likely to back down if it can see that the union is serious about fighting. If RMT caves in and accepts the offer, we would be doomed to rubbish rises for the next three years, but also inviting management to attack us at will.
We have come too far and done without our pay rise for too long - and there is too much at stake - to give in now.