Tube strikes: first round of five days' strike action begins

Thousands of London Underground workers set to take part in a second 48-hour strike over proposed cuts which include closing every Tube ticket office in London, with another 72-hour strike planned for next week.

Submitted by Anonymous on February 11, 2014

Update: Following a 48-hour strike of thousands of London Underground workers last week, the RMT and TSSA unions have suspended further industrial action following management agreeing to withdraw notice of 953 redundancies this year.

Thousands of London Underground workers were set to take part in a second 48-hour strike over proposed cuts which include closing every Tube ticket office in London.

Members of the RMT and TSSA unions walked out last Tuesday in the first of two 48-hour stoppages and are set to walk out from 9pm tonight to the same time on Thursday 13th February.

Under the proposals being put forward by London mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) hundreds of station staff jobs would be lost and supervisors would be moved from stations.

TfL claims the plans are needed to save £50 million a year. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimate each strike could cost the London economy £50 million a day.

Workers have already been taking action with an overtime ban in place since last month which has led to some station closures.

Last Friday union members attempted a 'revenue strike' which should have allowed free travel between certain times.

Picket lines

Workers are asking members of the public to support their picket lines and are expecting supporters from groups fighting austerity, such as Disabled People Against the Cuts and Occupy, to attend.

All the picket lines featured on the map below started from approximately 4:45am and lasted through till 11pm on Wednesday 5th February and then again from 4:45am till 8:59pm on Thursday 6th February.

Source: RMT London Calling

If you're taking part in the strike or have been down to your local picket line to show your support please let us know about it in the comments below.

Photo by Tom Page.

Comments

Chilli Sauce

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on February 4, 2014

This is so much better than that thread I started! Well done.

That revenue action is awesome, btw.

Steven.

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 4, 2014

Tommy Ascaso

Well this is technically the thread you started but thanks.

Yeah it's very cool, I think we've got a discussion from years ago somewhere on here where people were discussing whether it would work or not in London. It won't make any difference for me sadly as I've already paid for a monthly Travelcard which covers the period the action will be taking place.

hey, thanks for posting this as I was just about to type up this exact article!

With the fare strike, we actually spoke to a tube driver about this as a possibility in this interview here and he said this:

We’re always looking for new ways to engage in effective industrial action. It may not seem like it, but the RMT doesn’t enjoy inconveniencing the public and if it was possible to pursue a dispute without doing so I for one would be very interested.

Unfortunately, there is established case law which deems it unlawful for members of staff to attend work and perform only part of their duties. So if station staff turned up for work and simply allowed passengers to travel for free they would, initially be unpaid for the whole day and subsequently face disciplinary action for breach of contract. I don’t regard this as effective. Also, it is the taking of collective action that strengthens the resolve of individuals in a dispute; standing on a picket line is a great way of building class confidence.

We also have to consider that the vast majority of passengers pay in advance for their tickets and the loss of revenue for one day would be minimal; LUL may even be quids in once you factor in not paying wages for the day. The economic pressure comes from elsewhere. The effectiveness of strike action on the tube is often gauged by the amount of money lost by the city. Many millions of pounds are wiped from the economy each time the tube shuts down for a day; it is the pressure applied on LUL by big business that often causes them to agree to settle. It’s a very important weapon in our arsenal.

I would have thought that the financial loss would be minimal but hopefully combined with the overtime ban it can cause LU management problems.

Could people please post updates about their journeys/picket line experiences so we can try to build a picture of how well observed the strike is and how much of an impact it is having?

Steven.

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 4, 2014

By the way, King's Cross station on the map is in the wrong place, it's currently by Essex Road!

conflictjohn

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by conflictjohn on February 5, 2014

Here's some numbers from your article and elsewhere...

London Annual Budget for 2013/2014 = £11b
TfL Ticket Closure Savings = £50m/year
Estimated Loss to "The City" due to strikes = £50m/day
City of London Bank Bonuses in 2013 = £19b

Isn't it obvious to take a slice of that £19b worth bonuses in order to support public services and transport networks that are required by these businesses that depend on those people getting to work?

Awesome Dude

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Awesome Dude on February 5, 2014

Did anyone spot the scab "Travel Ambassadors" shipped in to try and weaken the strike? I saw a few being trained at my local tube station about a week ago.

Chilli Sauce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on February 5, 2014

So, I went to Queen's Park tube at probably close to 11. There were pickets signs up, but no one on the line. I do have friend who went down at around 7 this morning, so if I get a report-back from him, I'll post it up.

I also see that Boris/the Tories are talking about getting the Underground listed as an essential service to limit strikes. This is pretty ironic given that on one hand they say the strikes are not widely supported by staff, while on the the other hand, trying to have tube strikes banned precisely due to their effectiveness. It's an impressive piece of talking out of both sides of their mouth.

Spikymike

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 5, 2014

Presumably a 'fares strike' would only have any useful practical and propaganda value these days if the automatic barriers and ticket machines were somehow disabled?

Spikymike

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 5, 2014

Thanks Jim - I obviously didn't take time to check that, but not sure how this fits with the comment recited in Steven's post above as these Revenue strike days appear to be different from the full strike days which would make the action radical indeed and result in a possible further full strikes, if that makes sense?

Ed

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on February 5, 2014

Some pics.. Finsbury Park Station at 7am this morning:
RMT condemning the lethal overcrowding at Waterloo this morning:

The 'good service' on the Northern Line:
Closed stations (as of 8pm this evening).. that said, I notice that Wood Green station is not on the list and I know for definite that it was as I walked past it earlier today..

Closed stations
Aldgate East
Angel
Barbican
Bermondsey
Bethnal Green
Blackfriars
Borough
Canada Water
Chalk Farm
Charing Cross
Clapham North
Clapham South
Edgeware Road (Bak)
Embankment
Fulham Broadway
Gloucester Road
Goodge Street
Great Portland Street
Heathrow Terminal 4
Highbury & Islington
Hounslow West
Kilburn Park
Knightsbridge
Ladbroke Grove
Lambeth North
Leicester Square
Maida Vale
Mornington Crescent
North Ealing
Oval
Paddington
Piccadilly Circus
Pimlico
Redbridge
Regent's Park
Sloane Square
South Wimbledon
Southgate
Southwark
Stepney Green
Temple
Tufnell Park
Vauxhall
Wanstead
Warren Street
Station maintenance (lifts, escalators etc.)
Aldgate
Baker Street
Bank
Belsize Park
Blackhorse Road
Bond Street
Bond Street
Bounds Green
Canary Wharf
Cannon Street
East Ham
Edgware Road
Embankment
Farringdon
Farringdon
Finchley Road
Finsbury Park
Golders Green
Hainault
Hampstead Station
Heathrow Central (1-2-3)
Hendon Central
Kilburn
Kilburn Park
Ladbroke Grove
Liverpool Street
London Bridge Station
Mansion House
Monument
Morden
Mornington Crescent
Notting Hill Gate
Old Street
Paddington (H&C Line)
Russell Square
Sloane Square
South Kensington
Southfields
Temple
Tower Hill
Turnpike Lane
Victoria
Victoria
Waterloo
West Ham
West Ham
Westminster
Westminster
Wood Lane
Woodside Park

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 5, 2014

According to the Guardian most of the Underground wasn't functioning. Most lines were disrupted and running partial services. Apparently only a third of trains ran.

I was cycling, and traffic everywhere was absolutely terrible. Worst I've seen it. Lots of people from my work were working from home, and others were in late.

Hopefully the workers' resolve won't weaken, because I don't think London can put up with this level of disruption for long.

Chilli Sauce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on February 6, 2014

10 pickets at QP this morning - although that's second hand. I certainly didn't wake up at 7:00 to go down and check it out...

Ed

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on February 7, 2014

One picket got arrested for calling a scab a scab (if that cap fits..), after 13 hours in a cell got let out with the following disgusting bail conditions:

Ed

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on February 7, 2014

Or this slightly more upbeat picture showing the extent of disruption on the tube coz of the strike:

Looks like an average of 3 in 10 trains were running across the network. Bakerloo line more like one in ten and Piccadilly even less.. with the Northern line, do they try to consolidate scabs from across the network there on strike days? Coz I remember from the last time I was in London for a strike that the Northern ran the smoothest.. wouldn't surprise me as Northern has a bunch of important commuter stations like London Bridge on it.. anyone know?

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 7, 2014

Yeah, they may concentrate on Northern as it has London Bridge, King's Cross and Euston.

Anyone have any experience of the revenue strike? As I timed my commute to coincide with it, to try to write for free. However both the station I left through and the one I arrived at will both functioning normally, with gates closed, despite the fact that both of them were shut by the strike so I assume they were entirely staffed by union members (although I guess they may be TSSA, rather than RMT)

orkhis

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by orkhis on February 8, 2014

The Evening Standard (not exactly an impartial source I know) said that management were threatening workers with not paying them if the did not carry out instructions. The standard carried a quote from an RMT member saying he couldn't afford to lose more pay after going on strike. His rep had also apparently told him that he had not received assurances that the revenue action was legal.

The RMT's website has been talking up the revenue action, but Bob Crow apparently told LBC radio during the strike that a "Paris-style" action in the tube where the gates were left open would not be legal in this country (I didn't hear the interview though, so I may have that wrong).

unplugged

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by unplugged on February 8, 2014

I was on the picket line both days. A high volume of the public were very supportive. Its amazing how empathy and good points of discussion helped to engage the public in a supporting manner.

For the rep that was arrested. We will support you 100%. Like the reps who were arrested in Fiji. Through a massive campaign on "labour start" the mounting pressure helped free them. The people power will prevail also in this case.

Chilli Sauce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on February 8, 2014

Was that citation for a tube worker or a member of the public who went down to support the line?

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 9, 2014

orkhis

The Evening Standard (not exactly an impartial source I know) said that management were threatening workers with not paying them if the did not carry out instructions. The standard carried a quote from an RMT member saying he couldn't afford to lose more pay after going on strike. His rep had also apparently told him that he had not received assurances that the revenue action was legal.

The RMT's website has been talking up the revenue action, but Bob Crow apparently told LBC radio during the strike that a "Paris-style" action in the tube where the gates were left open would not be legal in this country (I didn't hear the interview though, so I may have that wrong).

yeah, that was what the tube driver told us in the interview a few years ago. That their contracts basically require them to perform at all duties expected of them. That being the case the employer could probably justify not paying them at all for the time for the time they carried out the action. Which would mean they might as well have just been on strike…

Hopefully after the next couple of days of proposed action we will get a clearer picture of what happened

Fnordie

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fnordie on February 10, 2014

Tommy Ascaso

revenue strike

Y'all are so much cooler than us yanks.

bricolage

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bricolage on February 10, 2014

Ed

Looks like an average of 3 in 10 trains were running across the network. Bakerloo line more like one in ten and Piccadilly even less.. with the Northern line, do they try to consolidate scabs from across the network there on strike days? Coz I remember from the last time I was in London for a strike that the Northern ran the smoothest.. wouldn't surprise me as Northern has a bunch of important commuter stations like London Bridge on it.. anyone know?

I might be completely wrong here but I always had it in my head that drivers were employed to a particular line, so when certain ones ran more trains during a strike it was because less workers on those lines/platforms were unionised/militant. As I said though this might be completely wrong.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 10, 2014

I think that is right, drivers are employed to particular lines. However I don't think there is necessarily a connection between the level of unionism as such, although some lines may have more ASLEF members than RMT

bricolage

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bricolage on February 10, 2014

ah ok, but then there might still be a correlation between certain lines and willingness to strike, ie. the northern line has more scab drivers not that they are consolidated there from other lines.

Chilli Sauce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on February 10, 2014

Fnordie

Tommy Ascaso

revenue strike

Y'all are so much cooler than us yanks.

I think something similar has been pulled of in New York a couple times - including that time recently where Occupy tried it, apparently in conjunction with MTA militants.

Fnordie

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fnordie on February 10, 2014

Yeah, I remember hearing about the fare strike in March 2012 in New York. The one in San Francisco in 2005 got pretty famous too. But riders refusing to pay is a little different from drivers giving free rides.

I didn't realize MTA workers were involved in New York. I wonder how many it really was - it'd be great if it were an actual work stoppage, like the first time ILWU helped Occupy Oakland shut down that port. I kinda suspect it was more like when we tried to blockade the Port of Long Beach a month after that...a few port truckers were involved, and that made us think it was OK to call it a "strike".

Chilli Sauce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on February 10, 2014

Yeah, I had those same sort of thoughts about the Occupy action, Although from what I remember from talking with folks in New York at the time, it wouldn't have been even possible without some involvement of folks on the 'inside'.

In any case, it actually looks like the US has a pretty good track record historically on fare strikes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fare_strike

bricolage

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bricolage on February 10, 2014

It's easier to pull off in New York though because you only have to swipe in whereas in London it's once in and once out, so it relies on both stations being a part of the action.

But I also agree that if there had been no involvement from MTA workers it probably wouldn't have been possible.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 11, 2014

BBC reporting just now that TSSA have called off their scheduled action today after supposedly reaching a "deal" on ticket office closures. No news on RMT yet.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 11, 2014

The RMT has now suspended their action as well.

They say that management have withdrawn the notice of 953 redundancies, and won't impose change from above without consultation.

My view is that the aims of the unions (and the majority of the members) would be to manage the reduction without any individual suffering detriment. So with no compulsory redundancies or pay cuts after the period of pay protection ends. If they achieve this it would be a significant success. However it would mean management would still get their way ultimately in terms of reducing the number of jobs and closing all the ticket offices.

Ed

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on February 11, 2014

From the Daily Mail so don't know how much truth there is in it but I do like the headline:

48-hour Tube strike is called off as London Underground caves to militants and agrees not to close all ticket offices

The planned 48-hour Tube strike has been called off after the two rail unions threatening a walk-out suspended their planned action to consider talks on a new deal.
London Underground conceded it would not now close all ticket offices, but that some would remain open under its modernisation of the system.
The concession – which gives a breathing space for further talks - spares transport chaos for millions of commuters from tonight.
However it will be seen by some as a climb down by London Mayor Boris Johnson who had said all tickets offices would close, and a victory for hard-line RMT Boss Bob Crow.

Another interesting article:

Tube strikes cost London small businesses £600m

Last week's London Underground strike cost small businesses in the capital £600m - and there could be more on the way.
Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show that those of its London members who were affected felt the strike cost them on average £1,297 each.
More than half (58 per cent) of small businesses in the city were disrupted, with 59 per cent citing cancelled meetings and 43 per cent citing staff absences as the biggest problems.

Jason Cortez

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jason Cortez on February 12, 2014

Well the LUL boss is saying that basically nearly all the jobs will in fact be lost. As to the revenue strike breaking contract of course it does, but then so does a strike.

orkhis

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by orkhis on February 13, 2014

Jason Cortez

Well the LUL boss is saying that basically nearly all the jobs will in fact be lost.

Seems that way, and having "discussions with the unions over each station" means fuck all to people losing their jobs if all management are going to do is confirm to the unions that they're closing the ticket offices, laying people off and making workers that stay work longer hours, pushed around from station to station or losing pay. That's not "consultation", that's just a slightly slower way of attacking the workforce.

I would have thought the unions have a lot of options besides a 24 or 48 hour strike across the network. Why not strikes and pickets at terminus stations, strikes on individual lines, zone 1 stations or stations threatened with complete closure? That, combined with an all out effort to fund a strike fund, would mean strike pay could be paid to those making the sacrifice and the workers having more weapons in their arsenal.

Throw in a 96 hour strike called at some point in the future (say the last Thursday/Friday of the month followed and the first Monday and Tuesday of the following month) and you have a pretty big wrecking ball to take into negotiations.

As it is, it's hard to see anything other than the RMT reduced in strength as its bargaining power and strength is negotiated away station by station.