LU have published the new rosters, minus the jobs we have been fighting to save. Some people feel this means LU have finally got their way. But the fight is not over. The new rosters do not come into effect until February 6th; LU are participating in a review of the cuts; a lot of RMT branches have passed motions for a 48 hour strike at the end of January and the RMT's executive voted last week to call a 48 hour strike at the end of January.
The unions could have used the publication of the rosters to galvanise the fight against them. Instead, the lack of new strike dates and a decisive lead from the unions thus far has allowed a sense of dismay and defeat to grow. Tubeworker argued that the unions should name more strike dates for December. At the very least they should have named some for January. The rosters are no more mighty and unchangeable than they ever were. The only thing that has changed is the absence of a fight.
Tubeworker says the fight is on and we should name a 48 hour strike at the end of January. We are not arguing for irresponsible, token, protest action. Tubeworker has argued repeatedly that action should only be called if there is a realistic chance of achieving something. In this case, the jobs review is a pressure point through which we might save some jobs. If LU agreed to postpone the implementation of the cuts to allow a thorough review, rather than the current bizarre and hopeless arranagement to continue the jobs review beyond the cuts implementation, then that would be a substantial gain. There is still time to fight for these gains - if the unions act quickly and decisively.
Some might argue that as the unions' leaderships have damaged the dispute through their silence over Xmas, it should be killed off altogether. Some say, 'The mood for a fight has gone' and 'A strike would collapse'. For precisely that reason, Tubeworker argued to keep the action and fight alive over Xmas. You don't need to tell us how a silent, unconfident leadership drains momentum from a dispute.
But some people also say, 'We have lost four days' money to get this far; we are not giving up for no gain'. If some fear further strikes will grieve members, remember noone is exactly jumping for joy about the cuts. Giving up, with all the long-term effects on our jobs and lives, would probably grieve us more.
Whatever happens next should be decided with the maximum level of democracy. Reps and members should be encouraged to participate in deciding whether and when we strike. The unions should be honest with us about the prospects of winning and what has been achieved. We should be credited with the intelligence to understand our own dispute. Our new representative on the RMT council of executives, Janine Booth, was elected on the pledge to only put on or call off disputes if decided by the majority of reps. Democracy should prevail.