‘GET RID OF THE PRIVATEERS’ – say Tube strikers

Determined Metronet strikers lobbying the Department of Transport in central London yesterday
Determined Metronet strikers lobbying the Department of Transport in central London yesterday

‘Privatisation has been a disaster, we want the complete renationalisation of the railway network in Britain,’ RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said yesterday.

Crow was speaking outside the Department of Transport near Victoria yesterday, as more than 2,300 RMT members entered the first full day of their 72-hour strike over threats to their jobs, forced transfers and pensions, following the collapse of Tube maintenance privateer Metronet.

While round-the-clock picket lines were maintained at Metronet bases around London, more than 250 striking Metronet workers demonstrated outside the Department of Transport before Crow, RMT President John Leach and RMT London Regional Organiser Brian Whitehead entered the building to deliver a letter containing the union’s demands.

‘We took in a letter saying the only way to run the job properly is to bring it back into public hands,’ Whitehead told News Line.

‘We are very pleased with the turnout of at least 200-250 here today, bearing in mind that many have been on picket lines overnight.

‘The strike has been most effective, with all nine London Underground Metronet lines completely stopped.

‘The message to the government is bring it back in house.’

Crow announced that there would be a demonstration outside Metronet headquarters in High Holborn at 11.30am today, a further 72-hour strike from next Monday and a lobby of the TUC Congress in Brighton next Tuesday lunchtime.

He also said: ‘As a result of discussions last night with London transport commissioner Peter Hendy, talks will now take place at 2.30 this afternoon.

‘That is a positive development and we hope that Metronet and its administrator will now take our members’ legitimate concerns seriously.’

RMT member Lloyd Rosser said: ‘We have to show solidarity to defend our pensions and against privatisation. It should be brought back to London Underground. The shareholders have made a fortune out of the taxpayer.’

On the picket line at Ealing Common in West London on Monday evening, RMT rep John Hunt said: ‘We’re determined to force the government to abolish the PPP (Public Private Partnership) and take the fleet back into public ownership where it can be accountable and where it belongs.’

RMT Health and Safety rep Joe McGuinness added: ‘We are absolutely solid. We’ve got all the depots out. If we don’t make a stand now it’ll be too late.’

He added: ‘We need action across the public sector to get rid of the privateers.’

Yesterday morning on the picket line, District Line Health and Safety rep Dave Illsley said: ‘We want to see the taxpayers’ money going into the infrastructure of the network, not into the shareholders’ pockets.’

TSSA and engineering union Unite both cancelled their planned strike action against Metronet yesterday.

l Faulty points that caused the fatal rail crash at Grayrigg, Cumbria, should have been inspected and repaired five days before, a Network Rail report has revealed.

An 84-year-old woman was killed and 22 people injured when a high-speed London to Glasgow Virgin Pendolino plunged off the track in February.

The Network Rail report, released yesterday, found systematic failures in track patrolling and management.