Support tube workers fighting back

UPDATE 06/01/2022: Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network visit RMT picket lines.

Socialist Party and NSSN visit RMT picket lines

Workers on the tube in London, members of the RMT transport union, have been striking against the imposition of “impossible and unreasonable demands on staff” over the reopening of the ‘night tube’. Workers have been striking weekly, refusing to work night duties on the Central and Victoria lines, as well as all duties on Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly at the end of November and on 18-19 December.

RMT tube strike, December 2021

“The disruption is entirely down to bosses and them abolishing the ‘night tube’ driver grade. The tube network has been hit financially, but management are using that as an excuse to attack us, even though they sat at home when we kept the tube running during the pandemic, risking our health,” one striking driver told the Socialist.

In addition to the imposition of night tube duties, all tube and Transport for London (TfL) workers are facing a concerted attack on their pensions and conditions.

“After 30 years of shift work a tube worker can expect to retire on less than half their salary.”

Workers see the action as the opening stage of this bigger battle.

The RMT has also agreed to conduct a ballot of all and London Underground members over pensions, jobs and working practices (so-called framework agreements), amid looming cuts threatened by both London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Tories.

TfL is also demanding more flexible working. As if working shifts around the clock over a seven-day working week isn’t enough! Tube bosses want to own staff 24/7. They want to demand changes to shift times and rest days whenever they demand it.

If the dispute goes unresolved, all train operators and instructor operators in the RMT on night tube lines will strike for 24 hours from 4.30am on 18 December.

Mail attacks tube strikers by stealing socialist’s image


by James Ivens, East London Socialist Party

The Daily Mail’s distain for working-class people will not surprise many of our readers, neither will its shoddy journalism. The right-wing rag has used Socialist Party member James Ivens’ image, taken from Twitter. In response James has written to the Mail:

Dear Daily Mail,

I am writing to you to demand that you remove a photograph that is my intellectual property and you have used without my permission — without even attempting to seek it, in fact.

The photograph is of an RMT picket line in Leytonstone on the evening of Friday 3 December. You took it from Twitter, which you wrongly credit as holding the copyright. The photograph is mine, and its publication on Twitter does not put it in the public domain, as any competent journalist would know.

The photo of the RMT picket line at Leytonstone stolen by
the Mail to attack the strike
Photo: James Ivens

If you were using the photo to support the heroic struggle of tube workers, I would take no issue. This strike is defending the terms and conditions of night tube workers — many of them parents or women who need part-time work with decent pay — against cuts by right-wing Labour mayor Sadiq Khan. This is round one of his brutal onslaught on the whole London transport network, caused by him accepting Tory government funding cuts rather than even trying to lead a mass campaign against them.

Your rag has used my photo — without permission — to try to smear striking drivers as responsible for a dangerous accident. Years of underfunding and underinvestment — especially cuts to station staff, the real issue here — have reduced safety on the network. The fault lies with Johnson and Khan, not RMT members who have fought their attacks. Management’s cavalier insistence on allowing strike-breaking drivers to run a much-reduced and therefore crowded and unsafe service during the strike is also to blame.

If you were really concerned about passenger safety, you would support the strikes to keep the night tube grade and prevent knackered drivers becoming the norm.

You must remove my photo immediately, and I trust that you will.

You should also withdraw this shameful article and apologise for it, but I don’t hold out the same hope given your long record of hatred for the working class.

Regards, James Ivens

I’ll just add — workers need an independent political voice. The Tories and their rags like the Mail ain’t it. Labour under Starmer and Khan ain’t it. The unions should stand their own, independent candidates to fight for working-class interests. The RMT is part of TUSC — Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which is a step in this direction.

Victory to the strike!

  • If the dispute goes unresolved, night tube drivers who are members of the RMT union will take strike action again on Central and Victoria lines from 10-12 December and 17-18 December. They will be joined by all train operators and instructor operators on night tube lines for 24 hours from 4.30am on 18 December.