‘Every single Tube line is suspended today. We’ve shut down London and we’ll do it again on Thursday,’ RMT Health and Safety Rep Carlos Barros said on Tuesday on the picket line outside Acton Town station, a main London Underground hub on the Piccadilly and District lines in west London.
Ten thousand RMT members are striking today to defend their jobs, pensions and terms and conditions, bringing London to a standstill again after their brilliantly effective 24-hour strike on Tuesday.
The two 24-hour strikes on Tuesday 1st and Thursday 3rd March were called in January following a massive 94% vote for strike action to defeat the attacks on jobs, pensions and terms and conditions emanating from the Tory government.
Barros continued: ‘We’re fighting for 600 jobs which have been left vacant, not replaced and which they won’t replace.
‘We’re also fighting to defend a pension scheme which they claim they have to save £100 million on, but which in fact is £180 million in surplus, which shows that they are only doing it because they want to smash us up.’
RMT member and train operator Harmander Rattan said: ‘We’re fighting for the rights we’ve already won. We’re not asking for more but we’re not prepared to get less.
‘The unions should all be together on this. Sometimes they seem to be too much like old gentlemen’s clubs. We are all the union, they have to join together.’
Alex Black, RMT Industrial Rep for Acton Town and 13 other stations, said: ‘We’re striking to save 600 jobs, to save our pensions and our terms and conditions. We’re fighting to save it all.
‘Boris Johnson is out to smash our union. He’s a joker. He’s got to be defeated. He’s got to be kicked out. Our struggle is very important and we are determined to win it.’
RMT member and train operator Rabia told News Line: ‘We’re on strike to protect our futures. We are not asking for more, just defending what we’ve already achieved.
‘They want to make 600 job cuts and that’s just the start. They want to take £100 million from our pensions, which is disgraceful. ASLEF should come out as well, we’re all in this together, it’s all our futures.’
RMT pickets out at 5.00am at Morden depot reported a solid response for the strike and said they are determined to defend their pension.
RMT member Paul Manuel told News Line: ‘If we don’t defend our pension it will be crucified.
‘I have worked on the Tube for 33 years and a good pension is what we have fought for.
‘This government is using Covid to cut our terms and conditions.
‘They try and push Driver Only Operation (DOO) but it just doesn’t work with a Victorian Tube network with its curved platforms.
‘We will be out again on Thursday and there will be more action if necessary.’
On the picket at Brixton in south west London, Paul Byrne, RMT rep, said: ‘The whole network is shut down, there are no trains running.
‘The strike is over pensions, job cuts and terms and conditions. There are at least 600 jobs being cut. There’s another strike on Thursday, and if the company don’t move we’ll have more strikes.
‘They just want a skeleton service. If we all stand together we will win. We always have in the past.’
Des Rice, Health and Safety rep at Brixton, said: ‘This is the only place in Europe that has an unsubsidised public transport system.
‘This is totally separate from the night tube strikes. It’s over safety, position losses (job losses) and rest day working, which is also a safety issue.
‘They are funding us three months at a time, and imposing more and more stringent conditions, with the aim of making it self-funding by 2023. We have to win this, and we will.’
The picket line at Leytonstone in east London was also strong with London Underground (LU) staff determined to step up their fight to defend their pay and conditions and stop the hundreds of sackings.
Jason Moriarty, RMT Branch Secretary Central Line East, told News Line: ‘We have been out on strike over the Night Tube every weekend since November and we have had good results.
‘The service on the Central Line has been decimated.
‘Now everyone is out because the LU workers are being forced to pay the cost of the cuts.
‘After previously being hailed as heroes working throughout the pandemic and putting our lives at risk, our hard-earned terms and conditions are set to be ripped away from us.
‘On top of 600 job losses these cuts only represent a small fraction of the cuts that Transport for London (TfL) have to make to reach government cut targets.
‘Once again Mayor Khan remains silent while the LU workers face a war brought on by government cuts.’
Pickets were out at 5am at Seven Sisters station in north London on Tuesday morning with a gazebo, refreshments table and a brazier to keep warm.
The picket line supervisor for the RMT said that Tube workers did their bit during the pandemic, ensuring that key workers got to work and now London Underground are coming for our jobs. ‘They want to sack 600 station jobs.
‘They want to make £100m savings per year to our pension scheme.
‘We asked for a guarantee that they would not cut the 600 jobs, but they would not give that guarantee.
‘They also refused to guarantee to keep our current terms and conditions of work. They would rule nothing in or out on any grades of jobs.
‘It’s because of these three basic points that we are striking. We had no option but to strike.
‘We know that they want to make further cuts. We know at the moment it is 600 station jobs but then they will come after every other grade.
‘Today it is all out: the drivers, station staff, depot staff, and the control room. Everything is shut. We are going to be here till 8pm this evening.’
Pickets were out at West Ruislip Central Line station in west London from 4.30am yesterday morning, despite the pouring rain.
Patrick Feehan, RMT train operator, told News Line: ‘The government are attempting to save £100 million from London Underground pensions.
‘Therefore, London Underground management have confirmed that they are refusing to honour existing frameworks.
‘They are refusing to confirm the same amount of workplace positions.
‘That means when people retire they are not replacing them.
‘Instead, they are forcing workers to move from one depot to another against their wishes and they are doing the same to the station staff. We must defeat their plans.’
Darren Lalli, train driver and RMT industrial rep West Ruislip, said: ‘It is disappointing to see ASLEF drivers including the rep crossing the picket line.
‘However all the lines are down now across the board. There is no service – stations are closed.
‘The service is seriously disrupted and will be including tomorrow and Friday morning. It has been a solid strike with 10,000 RMT members on strike.
‘On Monday the company met with the union for last minute talks where RMT demanded three assurances – on our pensions, jobs and existing agreements – in order for our strike to be suspended.
‘LUL gave no assurances. That’s why the strike has gone ahead. The government need to fund TfL properly and the London Mayor needs to stand firm and demand government funding for the service.’
At Elephant and Castle in south London pickets were out early on the first day of the two 24-hour strikes, shutting down the whole underground system throughout London.
Mick Hyde, RMT member at Elephant and Castle Station, said: ‘The strike is going well. There are over 600 job losses on the station side.
‘Pensions are being cut to career average and below. We worked during the pandemic to keep the service running, so essential workers could get to their jobs.
‘We couldn’t work from home. TFL are making millions in cuts, with management getting £12 million in bonuses if they succeed in pushing them through.’