Around 800 jobs are under threat on the London Underground. These jobs are vital to keep passengers safe and to maintain the service.
Workers whose jobs are under threat include those who sell tickets, deal with queues, find lost property, help lost children, assist passengers when they are ill, carry out security checks and make it possible for disabled people to get around.
So it is good news for everyone that the RMT union is preparing for a strike ballot over the issue.
As well as the jobs threat, London Underground wants to close some ticket offices and have others open only at peak times.
Around 200 people, most of them tube workers, came together in central London last week to discuss the cuts and get ready for action.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow told the audience, “Management want to take back all the conditions that workers have won over the last 40 to 50 years.
“The question is whether you are going to let them walk all over you—or are you going to stand up and fight?
“Management don’t want real trade unions, they want citizens advice bureaux.”
He added that the issues at stake were too important for workers’ response to be weakened by union rivalry and division.
He welcomed TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty to the meeting. Doherty pledged his own support for united action.
Janine Booth, RMT stations and revenue rep, told the meeting that the cuts would make the network “less safe, less secure, with less information and a worse service”.
Navin Shah, the Labour GLA member for Brent & Harrow, opposed the cuts. He reminded the audience that London mayor Boris Johnson, who presides over the cuts, had signed a petition against them during his election campaign.
Although RMT members were glad to see Navin Shah’s support, many were bitter about Labour’s failure to defend working people.
Several said that they are going to back the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) at the general election and saw no hope of reclaiming Labour for the left.
It was very positive to have speakers from the floor from the CWU, UCU, PCS and Unite unions—all pledging support for the tube fightback and seeking coordinated action as far as possible.
Another battle is brewing on the tube over maintenance cuts.
It’s urgent that the mood for a ballot is quickly turned into action. If management
goes to the courts to stop a strike then workers must go ahead and strike anyway.
Preparing for that means building fighting rank and file networks now.