‘WE DON’T accept privatisation,’ RMT rail union leader Bob Crow said yesterday, on the eve of today’s strike by over 2,300 RMT members employed by the collapsed tube privateer Metronet.
The three-day strike by maintenance staff who were formerly employed directly by London Underground is expected to bring whole parts of the tube to a standstill.
Crow told News Line: ‘The strike’s going ahead tomorrow at 6.00pm and as far as we’re concerned we don’t accept privatisation.
‘Privatisation was forced upon us.
‘We won’t accept our members’ pay and conditions or jobs being cut, and that’s what we’re defending.’
The RMT is demanding ‘unequivocal guarantees’ on jobs, transfers and pensions for its members after Metronet was placed in the hands of the administrator.
‘The letter we have received from Metronet and the administrator falls way short of the guarantees our members need and deserve,’ Crow said in a statement from the rail union.
‘What we sought was firm, unequivocal guarantees, but frankly our members are being asked to stake their jobs and their pensions on a pig in a poke.
‘The only assurances we have received about jobs and transfers cover only the period of administration, and that is simply not good enough.
‘It is strange that the administrator can determine all sorts of things about the future of the PPP contracts, apparently including who the next fat-cat privateer might be, but is not in a position to give on-going guarantees on the jobs of the people who actually do the work.
‘On pensions we have received no guarantee from the employer at all.
‘When the government forced through the disastrous part-privatisation of the Tube, the deputy prime minister told the world that the pensions of our members would be safe.
‘What we need from the administrator and Metronet is an unequivocal confirmation that Prescott’s statement will be adhered to by this employer or by any other employer under the PPP (Public Private Partnership).
‘Anything less is unacceptable.’
Crow added: ‘Of course we welcome (London mayor) Ken Livingstone’s desire to bring Tube maintenance back in-house, but the fact remains that the guarantees we need can only come from the employer.’
A demonstration has been called outside the Department of Transport in central London tomorrow at 11.30am to show support for the striking Metronet workers.
If the RMT does not receive the guarantees it is seeking, then another three-day strike will be staged.
The TSSA is also calling its members out on strike, for a 48-hour action from 8am tomorrow.
The union said that some ‘progress’ had been made in a meeting with Transport for London (TfL) and Mayor Livingstone over two issues, ‘the job cuts and Bombardier transfers’.
‘However,’ said Regional Organiser Andy Young, ‘we await suitable written confirmation of the commitment from the Metronet CEO and PPP Administrator to remove these proposals completely whilst the company is in administration.’
A meeting of TSSA members takes place today.