Unity is strength!

Labour Briefing’s trade union coverage begins with a review of industrial action in London, including the FBU’s industrial action, local government cuts (which Unison branches are fighting) and the campaign by Tube Workers (see below).

In other coverage, Jerry Hicks explains why he is standing for General Secretary of Unite and Darren Williams reports the local response to the Con-Dem Coalition’s threats to the Newport Passport Office.

Unity is strength!
Manuel Cortes, Assistant General Secretary of TSSA, explains why Tube workers are taking industrial action.

On the evening of 3rd October, TSSA and RMT members working for London Underground (LU) started their second 24 hour strike to stop proposals to cut 800 station jobs. A further two stoppages have been pencilled in for November.

I am extremely proud of the determination that members of both unions are continuing to show in their fight against these dangerous cuts. The camaraderie on picket lines has been breathtaking. Tube workers may belong to different unions, but when it comes to fighting these dangerous proposals they are as one.

It is clear that the dead hand of the Mayor lies at the heart of this dispute. Having voluntarily forgone revenue of around £55 million per year by cancelling the western extension of the congestion charge, he is now looking to save money by cutting services, safety and jobs on our Tube. Boris’s clarion call is for the few not the many!

They say that timing is everything. Doesn’t Boris know this well? On 7th October, ACAS contacted the unions in the hope that they could broker talks to resolve the dispute. That very same day came the announcement of a further 800 job losses of “non-operational staff”. In response to this further savage cull, we are looking to ballot all our members within the Tube. It appears that Boris is determined to scupper any attempts to bring industrial peace to LU and uninterrupted Tube services for Londoners.

The truth is that TSSA LU members are not renowned for their militancy. Before these recent events, you need to go all the way back to the 1926 General Strike to find them taking action! However, like other Tube workers, they are extremely angry that the Mayor will stop at nothing to push through these very dangerous proposals. We believe that these cuts are just the tip of the iceberg, as the cold chill of the Government spending review has yet to be felt.

The latest announcement brings the total number of job losses to over 2,000, including 500 in engineering. LU workers are simply not prepared to sit idly by and watch Boris destroy our Tube. Our reps continue to consult our members on a daily basis to make sure that we are ready to escalate action should it become necessary. Sadly, more strikes are almost definitely on the way.

Keeping momentum going when you have a rolling series of stoppages can sometimes prove challenging. This is certainly not the case within LU. If anything, the second strike was stronger, as respect for picket lines grew. Tube workers clearly understand that they have no option but to take a very strong stance to defend safety, services and jobs.

Judging from the support that passengers have been giving us on picket lines, most are not fooled by the Mayor’s hollow words that safety will not be compromised. Make no mistake, you can’t run a safe Tube with 2,100 fewer workers.

If the Mayor wins this fight, passengers will be the big losers. They will have to cough up for higher fares for a second rate, unsafe service. That is why it is very important that you show your support to TSSA and RMT members on picket lines. A victory for them is a victory for all!

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