Tube workers on strike in south London in November 2022 (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The RMT union called off a London Underground strike on Sunday afternoon just as thousands more workers were about to join it. It was wrong to halt the walkout.

The action began on Friday as maintenance train workers at Ruislip Depot walked out for 24 hours. Control staff were to strike on Sunday for 24 hours and from Monday to Wednesday nearly 10,000 Tube workers planned to bring the service to a total halt.

Service Controllers, signallers and line information workers were scheduled to continue the strike on Thursday.

Jared Wood, the RMT London Transport regional organiser,  told union members that bosses had conceded a further £30 million for the 2023 pay round. He added this was “a significant increase that will allow us to address the key issues raised by RMT. We will now seek to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.”

Bosses claimed there was no money—but, due to the threat of action, were forced to cough something up. Not a penny would have been offered if workers had not voted to strike, and pressed to reject the advice of some union officials who wanted it called off even before this latest offer.

But even so there are a lot of unknowns about the deal. Is it definitely an annual uplift so it forms the basis for future pay rounds? Who does it cover—managers as well as workers?

Transport for London has around 16,500  people working for it. Does that money cover all of them? If so it would be a little over £1,500 each once the employer’s national insurance payments and other costs are taken into account. That would still mean a below-inflation deal for many.

Are there any strings attached, or implied job cuts? All of these issues could have been resolved in workers’ favour if the strike had continued.

Workers should organise to insist on the union’s demand of a rise of £5,000 a year for all and an increase above the RPI measure of inflation.

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