By a tube worker
In a ballot of RMT members on the London Underground 80% of tube workers who took part voted for strike action over pay.
During recent pay negotiations the management offered 3.2%, which the union rejected. The management then imposed a smaller increase of just 3%. Underground workers were furious at both the meagre amount of extra cash and also the calculated snub the management have made to the workers and the union. The union wants a 5.7% increase.
Management have also gone back on a promise to reduce the working week of those underground workers not already on a 35 hour week. And they have refused to harmonise travel and pensions across the industry. Workers who live outside London face big bills for travel. The RMT is also fighting on these issues.
The drivers union, ASLEF, is also balloting its members over pay. The result of the ballot, which is due on 16 September, is likely to be in favour of strike action. The RMT and ASLEF seem set to strike together on this issue: that will be a very positive and effective display of unity and will cause the entire underground network to be shut down.
RMT activists are hoping that the union will call more than a one-day token action, but will stretch the action out to 2 or 3 days.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow has said that he wants to re-ballot RMT members over the issue of safety. He has also said that he wants action to coincide with the fire fighters. Mick Rix of ASLEF has made similar statements. Underground work of course is not safe without fire cover and so workers can stop the job.
Safety is a vital issue for underground workers now that the Public Private Partners (PPP) - privatisation - of the underground is very soon to be put in place. The prospect of underground workers and firefighters striking together is extremely important and exciting. Let's do all we can to ensure it happens.