Tube unions Aslef and RMT have announced a further 24-hour strike on London Underground on 5-6 August, with which other unions are likely to coordinate, after a 24-hour strike by all four Tube unions brought the network to a complete standstill on 8-9 July.
Members of RMT, TSSA, Aslef, and Unite struck over a range of issues, including the imposition of anti-social rosters in preparation for the introduction of 24-hour running (“Night Tube”) in September. Unions are demanding more time off to compensate for more fatigue-inducing night shifts. RMT also struck against London Underground’s job cut plans, which will see over 800 frontline station posts axed from early 2016. The dispute also covers Tube workers’ pay settlement.
After months of talks, during which LU did not budge from its offer of a 0.75% increase, with a £500 one-off Night Tube “bonus” for station staff and £750 for trains, track, and signal workers, it tabled a last-minute offer only days before the strike, involving a 1% increase in basic pay and a £2,000 bonus for drivers in the 11 depots which LU says will be most affected by Night Tube. The offer did not address any of the unions’ wider claims for more time off, a shorter working week, or the withdrawal of job cuts plans. LU Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths told unions they had until 6.30pm to respond to the offer, making it impossible for any union to meaningfully consult its members.
Picket lines were mounted at stations and depots across London. Despite the usual campaign of vitriolic hostility from the anti-union press, there was a significant level of public support for the strike, and campaign groups such as Hands Off London Transport and Disabled People Against Cuts supported pickets in various locations.
Unions commenced an indefinite overtime ban from 9 July onwards, which has already caused several station closures and delays to maintenance work.
The rank-and-file bulletin Tubeworker, published by Workers’ Liberty, commented:
“It is welcome news that further strike action has been declared. If our officials had gone back to negotiations without named action on the horizon, then there would be no pressure on management to concede anything. Naming a new date makes it clear that last week’s strike was not about letting off steam, but about fighting to win; that it was not a one-shot release.
“However, there are serious concerns about whether single days on strike once a month will exert enough pressure on LUL to make management back down. This is an identical strategy to the one that failed to stop 800 stations job cuts in 2010.
“Moreover, while unity of all four unions has been great, it also seems to have become a pretext for dates being set behind closed doors, with no involvement from rank-and-file members. At least one RMT branch had already called for a strike of at least 48 hours before the end of July.”
Many activists, particularly in RMT, are now arguing for strikes to step up from 24 hours.
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