RMT leads the fightback

The RMT has announced three national strike dates across Network Rail and 13 train operating companies. This historic strike will take place on 21, 23 and 25 June. The next tube strike will include all grades and will coincide with the national action on 21 June. The RMT demands an assurance of no attacks on pensions, job cuts or changes to working conditions.

In recent days thousands of RMT members have been on strike. 4,000 station staff on London Underground struck on 6 June, and others were on strike on the night tube. Cleaners employed by Churchill in London and Atalia Servest in Wolverhampton have taken strike action, as have RMT members on the TransPennine Express.

The whole trade union movement must give its solidarity to the RMT, especially as the Tories threaten new anti-trade union measures.

This strike announcement could transform the 18 June TUC demo.

Now is the time for the trade union leaders to come together to draw up a battle plan: drive to make the TUC demo as big as possible and plan the next step – to all strike together.

National rail and London tube – 50,000 prepare to strike

by John Reid, Retired RMT member, former NEC member

The RMT delivered its largest ever ballot result on Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies. Up against lies and intimidation by management, 71% of the members balloted voted yes by a margin of almost 90%. Now 40,000 RMT rail workers are preparing for national strike action.

RMT pickets at Hainault tube station
RMT members on strike at Hainault tube station
Photo: Martin Reynolds

This, together with over 10,000 RMT members in the live dispute on London Underground, puts 50,000 key workers in the battlefield to defend our jobs, conditions, pensions, and our right to strike. We are fighting not just for our members but for all workers.

We work long unsocial shifts. Yet we are expected to take cuts in our living standards, jobs and pensions while the parasitic, vampire-like billionaire and millionaire capitalist class prosper and feed off the blood, sweat and tears of workers’ labour.

On the London Underground, 600 station jobs are under threat. These are the workers who worked through Covid to get hospital staff and other key workers to their workplaces.

It is estimated by economists that every strike day costs between £50 and £300 million to the capital’s businesses. Even on the lowest estimate, every shift of every London Underground worker contributes £4,000 to the London economy.

Our campaign must demand full renationalisation of the transport network into a fully funded, integrated public network, under democratic working-class control.

RMT tube strike: working class power on display

by Gary Harbord, driver, Piccadilly line

On Monday 6 June station staff across London Underground, members of the transport union RMT, took strike action. This was follow-up action to the massive all-grades strike in March.

Socialist Party members report from across London.

Another great show of working-class power! The tube network is effectively shut by station staff alone.

Reps at Kings Cross told James Ivens that managers were only running trains where there’s no tunnels – so basically, there’s no underground on the underground! Even above ground a lot of stations were closed.

Unite Housing workers went to Finsbury Park to show solidarity. Nick Auvache says: “All the entrances are closed. The strike is a complete success at Finsbury Park”.

Nancy Taaffe reported “Walthamstow closed. Large crowd forming and being told there’s a strike on”. Similarly, Socialist Party member Tim reports simply: “Leyton closed”.

Strikers at Arnos Grove pointed out to Paul Kershaw how significant this dispute is. “All terms and conditions are up for grabs.”

A picket at Kings Cross explained the importance of their fight for the public: “If they get rid of us then that’s that, there’s no one. The Underground is terrible for disabled people already. I was with an electric wheelchair user the other day who couldn’t get a space on a train. He’d waited half an hour. His battery had run out and he was trying to push it. I was this close to getting him a taxi myself. But anyone can need help. A woman turned her ankle on the platform the other day and I had to help her out of the station.”

Several different strikers at Brixton discussed with Berkay Kartav the importance of coordinating the action with other groups of striking workers.

A striker at Oxford Circus said: “We need longer actions if we’re going to hit all the bosses. When we go out for several days, when they see their bank balances dropping, that’s when they take notice.”

One rep at Hainault said to Socialist Party members: “I can’t tell you how much it means to have you standing with us here and all over London”.

The 24-hour station staff strike caused significant disruption, with hundreds of stations closed and a severely limited service.

Train lines were suspended and where a service was running it was only on the outlying stations. The strike has shown the government, the London Mayor and Transport for London that we are in this fight for the long term.

Further action, including all grades, is inevitable unless all attacks are taken off the table.

  • Solidarity with station staff!

RMT members in London have been fighting this year on different fronts. Wider action by the union is a big boost to all these members.

Night tube

RMT members on the Central and Victoria underground lines have been on strike every Friday and Saturday night since January in a fight to defend the work-life balance of drivers. Socialist Party members have supported their campaign for family-friendly working practices all the way through. They have just reballoted and overwhelmingly voted to continue the action.

Churchill Cleaners

Cleaners working on Churchill contracts on Govia Tameslink (GTR), Eurostar, Southeastern trains, and HS1 are continuing their action for £15 an hour. Despite Churchill making £39 million profit in 2020, they pay cleaners as little as £8.91 an hour. The workers should be paid – and the work should be brought back in-house, out of the hands of greedy profiteers!