London is effectively shut down today as RMT workers go on strike. Søren takes a look at how the pickets are going with a round-up of reports.
The RMT, which represents tube workers across the London network, began another 48-hour strike last night after London Underground refused to budge in their decision to shut down ticket offices. Both LU and Boris Johnson have blamed ‘narrow-minded union barons’ for the lack of resolution, despite polls showing support for the tube workers’ cause when they last struck, back in February. Simon F, from North London rs21, spoke to an RMT picketer at Finsbury Park station, which was completely shut down.
I joined the 6 picketers at the Wells Terrace entrance. We spoke about what the members thought the attacks were all about. As well as the attacks on jobs and reduction of staff, they feel that it is part of a larger strategy by the government to break up the union. As part of the proposed changes all supervisors – who act as station coordinators, and who can’t hire or fire, and who are mainly on side with the staff and unions – will be pumped up a grade to lower management position. This will mean that they lose all union rights, can’t be reps and can’t take industrial action. This means that if there is another strike they will have to work.
The picketers said that the mood of the public was more subdued than last time. Last time they said you could sense the support. This time people were slow to take flyers and seemed less sympathetic. I replied it’s not enough we should be out too. The right are using the argument that the attacks are a pro–disabled move to get more people out of the offices and onto the floor. What’s really happening is that, not only are jobs being cut, but those who will remain will be moved into back offices not even into the ticket offices, through incorporation into lower management positions. The picketers said that they were expecting a visiting from DPAC later on in the morning to show their solidarity. Finally the picketers said that they were disappointed with the fact that Union officials seem to only be saying that the fight is with London Underground were they should have said it was a larger attack from the government. North London rs21 will return to the picket line again tomorrow.
I went to Elephant and Castle tube with a group of students and student union officers. Even though tube users were going in, they were receptive to the strikers and the reasons they were taking action.
A central London restaurant ‘Grill Market’ tried to capitalise on the media’s demonisation of the RMT by offering a discount for everyone except strikers. After complaints flurried in, they ended up having to make a amusing apology.
Again, total apology to anyone offended by the board this morning, was only supposed to be a joke, clearly I got it VERY wrong.
— Grill Market (@grill_market) April 29, 2014