RMT union on the picket in south London during previous Tube strikes (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Thousands of London Underground workers are preparing to strike in a battle that will cause huge disruption to the capital’s transport system. It should also encourage more workers to restart the battles over pay and working conditions.

Tube workers in the RMT union have rightly rejected a 5 percent pay offer that is well below information for the period it covers. The deal was supposed to be implemented in April last year.

The action began as maintenance train workers at Ruislip Depot walked out for 24 hours on Friday night. Control staff will strike on Sunday for 24 hours and from Monday to Wednesday nearly 10,000 RMT members will strike across the Tube.

Service Controllers, signallers and line information workers will continue the strike on Thursday. Talks continued right up until the beginning of the strike. Some of the negotiators were prepared to postpone the action, but in reality, there was nothing serious on offer.

Bosses offered no improvement to the 5 percent pay rise and no minimum increase for the lowest paid grades. Over other non-pay issues, London Underground pledged only “working groups” to “expedite” benefits—but with no improvements from 1 April 2025 at the earliest.

Most union reps demanded that the strikes should go ahead. One RMT member on the Tube told Socialist Worker, “We had to push to make sure that the strikes went ahead. We now need to have the same vigilance to make sure there is no deal less than a rise of £5,000 a year for all and an increase above the RPI measure of inflation.”  

The new anti-union laws could have been used in this strike. They give rail bosses the power to demand enough workers come in to let 40 percent of service run even when workers have voted for a strike.

Tories on the London assembly and wider have demanded the laws are used. But London mayor Sadiq Khan has decided that imposing such enforced scabbing would cause a revolt and has ruled them out at this stage.

It’s a positive sign that the Tory laws will not have an easy ride. But beating the anti-union legislation means defying and confronting them. The Tube and junior doctors’ strikes are a sign of the potential to fight over pay. We need more of that sort of action.

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