It seems that there was a belief among management - and from comments made on here certain RMT members - that ASLEF TOps were somehow adverse to going on strike, that many of the members who had defected from the RMT in order to avoid going on strike would also cross the picket line on this occasion and that as ASLEF TOps had worked when RMT were on strike in the past RMT TOps would do the likewise on Friday. If that was the case then on Friday we disabused the hell out of them.
During the RMT strikes apart from a gap from MAA to WHC we were running a service, on Friday at best there was WHC to EAB in the west with EPP to MIE in the east but that later shrank to EPP-LES and finally there were no service on the east end of the line at all. One explanation of why so many RMT TOps worked during their own strikes is that they weren’t prepared to lose a day’s pay when the number of stations open suggested that plenty of station staff were unwilling to go on strike themselves whereas Friday’s strike was over issues that affected all Central Line TOps regardless of their affiliation.
Okay, let’s get this straight, no one on our side wants a strike, we don’t actually want to lose a day’s pay, we’d be a lot happier if we could just get on with things but as management seem unwilling to negotiate we are left with little choice, the only alternative is accepting that management can change our terms and conditions whenever they feel like it. We don’t want anything extra, we’re not striking for more money or more days off or free caviar and chips at the canteens, we just want management to honour the agreements they made with the unions on a whole raft of issues. We have a system, it wasn't broken but they chose to fix it.
From mess room whispers it seems that one of the problems with the negotiations is that most of the senior managers responsible for this mess aren’t actually directly involved in the talks as they’re off on holiday. When an agreement was reached the managers had to call someone on a beach somewhere who would then say that it was unacceptable. Allegedly our new General Manager Chris Taggart doesn’t like unions and thinks all agreements should be discarded, like the new sheriff riding into town declaring that there was going to be a change around here, somehow forgetting that in those movies the townsfolk invariably descend on the sheriff’s office with flaming torches and a noose.
Hopefully the effectiveness of Friday’s strike gives management cause to soften their hardline attitude, we held a strike on the Friday before Bank Holiday when plenty of our regular commuters were off, the next one will be on a Wednesday when everyone will be back. Another thing to consider is that the strike may spread, the Piccadilly, District and Jubilee Lines all have their own separate grievances, they could also ask for a strike ballot and it wouldn’t be too hard to arrange all the strikes on the same day. With RMT and TSSA increasingly unhappy with the negotiations on station staffing this could just keep getting bigger and bigger, perhaps this might not be the best time to prod the sleeping bear with a stick.
Hopefully over the next three weeks someone suddenly has a serious attack of sense but that doesn’t seem to be high on the list of attributes required for LUL managers compared to the ability to bury one’s head in the sand on a beach in Cancun.