Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Metronet Strike

It would be remiss of me not to mention the strike by my workmates and RMT brothers and sisters on Metronet today (and tomorrow, and the next day ...).

These people were privatised under the notorious 'Public-Private Partnership', forced to work for a cowboy outfit called Metronet, a consortium of Balfour Beatty, Atkins and others. In the four years since, the workers have done their best to maintain and improve London Underground in the face of shoddy, incompetent management cutting corners, flagrantly disregarding safety and still draining £1m per week in profits from the public purse. Then, a couple of months ago, and shortly after derailing a Central line train, Metronet crashed, and was taken into administration.

Its workers now feared for their pensions, their job security, and the possibility that they may simply be reprivatised into the hands of another bunch of cowboys. So they demanded that their unions put up a fight. RMT is by far the biggest union on metronet, with TSSA and Unite having a small number of members each. All three unions balloted for strike action, all got big majorities, and all named strike dates this week. The employers and the Mayor were under intense pressure, and began to make 'offers' that were not in fact offers in the sense that they meant anything concrete, but were offeers designed to give union bureaucrats a piece of paper they could wave and call a victory. It worked for TSSA and Unite, who jumped ship yesterday and called off the action. (The name 'Unite' clearly does not refer to a willingness to Unite with - or at least maintain unity with - other unions, then.)

RMT rightly went ahead anyway, the strike is solid, and every Underground line maintained by Metronet is running no service. It is superb, effective piece of workers' solidarity that should be an inspiration to us all. You can send messages of support to RMT's LU Engineering branch.

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