”WE”RE rock solid and we’re going to fight the closures and sackings all the way,’ RMT rep Sean told News Line at King’s Cross Station in central London yesterday morning, as the 48-hour Tube strike action, which continues until 8.59pm tonight, brought London to a standstill.
Sean continued: ‘We’re defending public services. They are coming for every grade – whether it’s fleet, emergency, station staff, train operators, signals or service controls,’ he explained. ‘They are trying to introduce an automated, staffless service on a system that was built in 1836.’
London’s roads are gridlocked, with the RMT also taking 48-hour strike action on the Heathrow Express in a separate fight in defence of jobs, pay and against savage cuts.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said yesterday: ‘London Underground have dug themselves into an entrenched position and have refused to move one inch from their stance of closing every ticket office, in breach of the agreement reached previously through ACAS which enabled us to suspend the previous round of action, and in flagrant violation of repeated promises from the London Mayor Boris Johnson that not a single ticket office would be closed on his watch.
‘It is scandalous that Transport for London are blowing what we estimate to be hundreds of thousands of pounds on politically-motivated adverts and propaganda designed to deflect attention from Boris Johnson’s broken promises.
‘RMT could have recommended the suspension of this strike action if LU had responded positively to our proposal to halt the ticket office closures and job cuts, stopping the dire impact they would have on the length and breadth of London Underground.
‘As a consequence of the management stance, and the broken promises of Boris Johnson, the action has gone ahead and is solidly supported. RMT remains available for serious and meaningful talks around our alternative proposals.’
At Finsbury Park Station in North London, Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT told News Line: ‘It’s a very solid strike, we’ve had Aslef members who have refused to take trains out because they weren’t prepared properly.
‘That’s because our colleagues and other grades who maintain the trains are out on strike, so there’s support from the drivers and, if anything, more support from the public. We’re trying our best for coordinated action. Aslef’s leadership has got its head in the sand and the TSSA refused to coordinate action with us on this occasion. Unite are saying that this has nothing to do with them, despite having members in the engineering grades.’
Norman Thomson, RMT Rep said: ‘This is an opportunity for the working class to have a general strike in support of each other.’
On the picket line at Arnos Grove in north London, Craig Diggins told News Line; ‘It’s important to defend all jobs. We’re all under threat, not just through the closure of ticket offices. They are doing a massive restructuring which will have an affect on the safety of the service we provide.
‘What’s happening is cost driven, it has nothing to do with a better service for the paying public. We offered to suspend the strike if the company would have a general consultation not just with us but with public user groups and they refused point blank.
‘The TUC has had the call for a general strike on the table for two years – they should act on it.’