4,000 striking station and revenue control staff shutdown London Underground on Monday in a show of strength to oppose pension attacks and job cuts.
Trains remained in depots across the network and RMT union members reported huge attendances at picket lines despite heavy rain across the capital.
600 station staff jobs will be lost if TfL (Transport for London) plans go through and RMT members face huge detrimental changes to their pensions and working conditions.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘I congratulate our station grade and revenue control staff members on London Underground for taking strike action in defence of their pensions and jobs.
‘The effectiveness and industrial power of these members cannot be underestimated.
‘TfL, London Underground Limited (LUL) and the Mayor of London have had ample opportunity to negotiate with the union properly to avert this strike action today.
‘Their intransigence and stubbornness have left RMT members no choice but to act decisively.
‘We will not rest until we have a just settlement to this dispute and we urge the Mayor to stand up to the Tory government who are cutting funding to TfL rather than try to pick a fight with tube workers.’
There was a lively picket at Arnos Grove Piccadilly Line station in north London, where Robert Jones told News Line: ‘It’s great to see that the industrial action taken by RMT stations’ staff has had such a profound impact and it is a sign to other unions, the mayor’s office and the government that we are determined to defend our jobs, terms and conditions and pensions.
‘I hope this action is the beginning of a wider movement of the working class standing together in solidarity and working towards a general strike against this tyrannical government.’
At Brixton Station in south west London Paul Murphy, Industrial RMT rep on the Victoria Line Underground said: ‘There are 600 job cuts on the whole of the underground.
These changes, or attacks, to call them by the right name, on our terms and conditions will obviously make working on the Underground worse – for employees and passengers.
‘On top of that, the employers are looking at cutting our pensions as well.
‘We have already been out on strike over pensions and they have backed off a little but they haven’t ruled the changes out.
‘We want a rock solid guarantee our pensions won’t change either.
‘For passengers and services in Central London Zones 1 and 2, these cuts will mean that there will be minimum numbers, so when you go into those stations you will see very few station staff.
‘If you want to speak to someone you will probably be waiting in a queue.
‘It makes it more dangerous for passengers, and makes it harder for staff.
‘In the Outer London Zones 5 and 6 – East London, North London, West London – there will be a lot of stations left completely unstaffed.
‘It’s dangerous during the day and at night it’s even more dangerous and less safe for passengers.
‘London Underground is not a private company, but it’s not completely publicly run.
‘Sadiq Khan is our number one boss. Up until a few years ago we used to get a grant from central government.
‘Boris Johnson took that grant away when he was Mayor of London, and it has never come back.
‘But rather than fighting the Tories, Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor, has chosen to fight the staff instead.
‘A change of government is brewing but even if we get a Labour government, look, at the-end-of-the-day we have a Labour Mayor, and they have done nothing to help us.
‘We might have to break away. Some kind of workers’ government, that would be the ultimate aim but obviously we would need not just London Underground on strike, we would need mass participation in strikes and demos. It’s capitalism that needs to fall really.
‘I’ll be on the TUC march on the 18th of April. It is the right thing for the trades unions to call it.
‘We need a big turn out and mass participation from all unions and all workers and the communities.
‘We need to start building up with coordinated action for a General Strike.’
At Greenford Station in West London, RMT memberMark Simon told News Line: ‘They want to slash our pensions.
‘They know our pension pot is in a really good place and they want part of it.
‘It’s my pension, it’s what I have for my old age. I don’t own my own house.
‘I’ve paid into my pension for 23 years and it belongs to me. They can’t be allowed to move the goalposts and pick my pocket, no way!’
RMT Health and Safety Rep Duncan Capp told News Line: ‘There are picket lines at major stations throughout the network today.
‘Most Zone 1 stations are closed today. There are approximately 4,000 of us station staff on strike against LU management attempts to change our conditions and pensions, all to get a share of a £12 million bonus.
‘600 jobs are at stake, but that’s only the start. They plan to cut more jobs. They are going after the engineering side next.’
At Shepherd’s Bush station in west London, supervisor Kieran said: ‘Management are trying to tear up our work agreements regarding our station cover for the future.
‘At present, I can cover any station up to Marble Arch, but in the future they could ask me to cover as far away as Epping Forest.
‘We are facing 600 job cuts. We don’t have enough staff as it is and there are no assurances that our pension will be saved.
‘With the coming national rail staff striking as well, we will have a national shutdown of the rail network.
‘The government have squandered tax money and we have kept the service running throughout the pandemic.’
At Notting Hill Gate Station, picket supervisor Danny said: ‘We’ve had a good support from the public today. We want a fully funded network. A ‘managed decline’ is not acceptable to us.
‘We are taking a stand to defend the service against cuts of between 25-35% of station staff.
‘We would have to work constantly in extreme shifts and it would increase the fatigue.
‘The government are trying to ban strikes and are making it difficult to get a national rail strike as workers at 16 private companies have all got to meet minimum turnout thresholds.’