Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Strikes are good #2: London Underground

Arwyn Thomas, RMT activist, turned down a six-figure offer by London Underground to go quietly
A harder sell this than Tindle Newspapers, but I maintain that strikes are good even on London Underground. Contrary to the picture conveyed by the Evening Standard, Boris Johnson et al, people who work on London Underground are not gung-ho for strikes.

I have a couple of friends active in the RMT union; they are socialists and want the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism - but even they, like the vast majority of their co-workers, take pride in their job and believe in railworkers running a good rail service (something they probably do better without interference from management).

You'll know that recently the RMT organised strikes over the victimisation of union representatives by London Underground management. The management basically used disciplinary pretexts to get rid of effective trade union organisers. In all three cases, Arwyn Thomas, Eamonn Lynch and Peter Hartshorn, the determination of ordinary RMT members not to have their union squished like a fly has made management back down. The three union members are now back at work.

All around the country, in all manner of workplace, people who try to join trade unions or organise effective union branches lose their jobs because of it. Sure, they can go to an employment tribunal, which often finds in their favour, and they might be paid some compensation, but in 99 out of 100 cases they do not get their jobs back.

If you want to understand more about these recent victimisations for trade union activity on London Underground, and how they were beaten back, a good account is available in the rank and file bulletin Tubeworker. (This is not an official RMT bulletin, but an independent initiative of a socialist group, Workers' Liberty.)

Here is an extract:
We kept going until we got our result. Management underestimated the determination of Arwyn Thomas, who turned down a six-figure sum, refusing to put a price on the head of a rep. Under pressure from reps, RMT’s executive voted to keep strikes on unless Arwyn was reinstated.

Legal decisions and negotiations with management need to be backed up with industrial action. Arwyn and Eamonn [Lynch] both won their employment tribunals, but the legal decision alone would not have won reinstatement for either. When LU finally talked to the union about reinstatement, it was only because the threat of strikes loomed.
You see, strikes are good.

1 comment:

Mrs Angry said...

yes, yes, agreed, and I do like a pin up of a man in a hi vi jacket - especially on the picket line. Perhaps we could start a rival site to glum councillors?