London Underground is closed down today as Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) members staged another 24-hour strike over jobs, pensions and in defence of their agreements.
Transport for London issued their usual disclaimer for any responsibility, claiming that they haven’t ‘proposed any changes to pensions and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals we have set out’.
Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has overall responsibility for Transport for London (TfL), appealed for the RMT to call off the strike with his spokesperson saying: ‘The mayor urges the RMT to call off this strike action which will have a serious impact on London’s businesses and commuters at a time when we are working to get more passengers back on to the network and boost the capital’s economic recovery.’
In fact, as RMT general secretary Mick Lynch reported to members last week, neither TfL nor Khan are in the slightest bit interested in negotiations with the union over the massive job losses and cuts to their pensions that are planned.
Lynch wrote that a meeting between the union and management at the Arbitration and Conciliation Service (ACAS) last Wednesday was ‘the most pointless meeting yet held in the present dispute’.
Lynch wrote: ‘Management have made it clear that – on the orders of your employer and the Labour Mayor of London, and the Tory government – they want to slash around 600 station jobs and tear up our working agreements. This is of course on top of the ongoing threat to your pensions which affects not just station staff, but all TfL employees.’
Management made it clear to the union that they were not interested in trying to settle the dispute. Indeed it turned out they didn’t have any authority to negotiate with the RMT on anything.
In a press release following the meeting, Lynch stressed that Khan has the power to settle the dispute saying: ‘Mayor Khan must choose either to take on the Tory government and demand a just funding deal for Londoners or attack loyal Tube workers who keep the capital moving, day in day out.’
Khan has already made his choice and is standing firmly with the Tory government against the working class.
The Tories ended TfL’s government funded grant back in 2018 costing the network around £700 million a year which it has attempted to make up through cuts.
During the pandemic, the Tories were forced to give short-term funding to keep TfL from collapse but this came with strict conditions that TfL deliver massive savings of up to £400 million above those previously agreed.
As RMT workers know full well, savings of this magnitude are to be achieved through slashing 600 jobs, ripping up conditions of employment and attacking their pensions.
An ‘independent’ review commissioned by Khan has already called TfL workers pensions ‘unreformed, outdated and too generous to employees’. It said that reforming (cutting) the pension scheme could save £100 million a year.
Khan has made his choice to act as a willing stooge for the Tory attack on RMT members on the Underground through a policy of stonewalling and blatant lies that seek to portray RMT workers as the ‘enemy’ of Londoners.
In fact, Khan and TfL are clearly waiting for the Tories to come after the RMT as it prepares a national strike on the entire rail network in the coming weeks.
Tory transport minister Grant Shapps has announced plans to make all-out strikes by rail unions and other transport workers illegal.
The Tories are prepared for a showdown, not just with the RMT, but with every union and the entire working class in the drive to impose the cost of living crisis firmly on the backs of workers and their families.
The entire trade union movement must respond by taking decisive action by calling a general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers.
The TUC march and demonstration called on June 18th must be the start of the general strike to put an end to bankrupt capitalism and advance to a socialist society.
This is the way forward.