Stop the Cuts - It's Time to Fight or Die

The cat is out of the bag. LUL have told the unions bluntly that they intend to slash as many as 800 operational jobs across the combine. Recent leaked documents have shown that these cuts are merely the tip of an iceberg which includes sub-surface stations having no more than minimum staff numbers, even during special events, and open section stations having no staff at all. This is a Company Plan with knobs on. These proposed cuts show that the company is prepared to play fast and loose with the safety of staff and passengers and to reduce the standards of service given to the paying public. Although the jobs under threat are mainly in the ticket halls and on stations, the safety implications are obvious and will affect all frontline grades, including drivers. And those who escape the axe will find themselves working under a far more stressful regime than ever before.

This latest attack on jobs must be seen in the context of the company’s recent treatment of its staff: sackings of drivers for errors which would previously have attracted only a warning; maximum warnings given for sickness absence, even where members have otherwise exemplary attendance records; wilful disregard for agreements which no longer suit management aims; a 3-year effective pay freeze. In addition to this drift towards a draconian style of management, the company has hinted on more than one occasion its desire to greatly reduce its pension commitments – something that can be only achieved by either cutting our pension rights or abolishing the current final salary scheme altogether.

The truth is that the company is under pressure from nightmare Johnson and the government to cut costs in order to help pay for a recession which we had no hand in making. (The actual architects of the recession in the City of London were given hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ cash to help them out of their own hole, much of which went abroad and can no longer be accounted for. How differently the rich and powerful are treated to the rest of us.)

The inescapable logic in all this is that we now face a stark choice: do we put our heads in the sand and hope that everything will turn out all right, or do we stand up together and shout ‘ENOUGH’? To ask the question is to answer it. If we do nothing, lots of members will become jobless whilst those who avoid the job centre will end up working in a stressful, poorly rewarded, dangerous environment under a dictatorial management unconstrained by a strong trade union presence. Who is for that?

The alternative is to fight back. This will not be easy, but it holds out our only hope of stopping the company in its tracks, the only hope of protecting everything we now enjoy; reasonable pay and conditions, a safe working environment, a decent pension upon retirement, top class union representation when we have a problem, and much, much more. In short, everything that has been achieved through strong, principled trade unionism over the course of many decades. If you want to see where you end up without strong trade unionism, check out the pay and conditions in Wetherspoons or Tesco. We got here through collective action. To stay here and to move forward, we need more of the same and we need it now. Come to the meeting on 31st March and help start the fightback.

Article from March 2010 edition of Finsbury Park Monthly News