Meeting report: Mass members' meeting plans fightback

RMT reps and activists came together for a mass meeting at the Indian YMCA on Fitzroy Square on 24 April, to discuss three major disputes facing London Underground workers: against cuts to train maintenance (“extended train prep”); against job cuts (“Transformation”); and on pay, terms, and conditions.

With a strong mandate for industrial action against extended train prep recently secured by members in LU Fleet, and action called from 2 May (not to undertake training for any work outside of substantive roles), activists discussed possibilities for further action. There was a strong sense that the battles over train prep and Transformation are likely to require an all-grades response, with train driver and station staff reps expressing solidarity with members in fleet and the areas affected by Transformation.

Attendees also discussed the campaign for improved pay and conditions on LU. Medical evidence confirming the links between extreme shift working and ill health was cited, making the union’s demand for a reduced working week something that could make the difference between good or ill health in retirement, or even life and death. LU has told unions that implementing a 32-hour week would cost £190 million: far less than the £300 million that the Evening Standard reports that a single day’s strike on LU “costs” the London economy. In other words, we all generate more money, simply by turning up for work every day, than it would take our bosses to implement our demand.

LU has written to unions to request further talks over pay, following unanimous rejection of its 2.5% offer. The message from the RMT members’ meeting was that we should continue campaigning in workplaces to build support for the demands in the union’s pay claim – not only around a reduced working week, but on a flat-rate pay increase for the lowest paid; equalisation of staff travel benefits; and the consolidation of the CSA grades on stations – and prepare for a possible industrial action ballot.

It was also acknowledged that 2,600 members of the permanent LU workforce, cleaners, are excluded from LU terms and conditions because LU outsources cleaning to a private contractor, ABM Ltd. The meeting resolved to redouble efforts to campaign to bring cleaning in house and ensure cleaners are part of future discussions on pay, terms, and conditions on LU.

Further discussions about how to campaign in our ongoing disputes will take place in branch meetings and at the Regional Council. Get active in your branch and have your say!