More Industrial Action on the Horizon in London! But why?


Do you, like me, get frustrated that the reasons why industrial action is being threatened are not fully explained to the general populace?

I often find that all news reports of impending industrial action are muddled together with negative union related stories. Take the RMT’s recent rejection of a pay and condition offer. I set out below a copy of the response from RMT general secretary Bob Crow, published on the RMT web page, which explains why the offer was rejected (my highlighting).

RATES OF PAY & CONDITIONS OF SERVICE 2011 – LONDON UNDERGROUND LTD

In line with RMT policy, a pay claim for an increase in pay and improved terms and conditions was submitted to London Underground on behalf of you and your colleagues. An offer has been received from LUL and it is as follows:

  • Year 1 (April 11 to March 12):           4%
  • Year 2 (April 12 to March 13):           RPI + 0.25%
  • Year 3 (April 13 to March 14):           RPI + 0.25%
  • Year 4 (April 14 to March 15):           RPI + 0.25%
  • Year 5 (April 15 to March 16):           RPI + 0.25%

This offer has been considered by your union’s Executive Committee and been rejected for the reasons I will outline below.

The first thing to note is that, with February’s RPI being 5.5%, then the first year of this offer is not a rise at all, but is actually a real-terms pay cut of 1.5%. This offer therefore falls well short of your union’s claim for a substantial, above-inflation, pay rise in a one-year deal and has been tabled despite LU carrying record numbers of passengers, charging high fares following above-inflation fare rises, cutting staff and thus increasing productivity and to say nothing of the continuation of LU in paying large numbers of senior managers excessive fat cat salaries.

This is why the derisory offer has been rejected and why your union shall continue to press the company for significant improvements.

Your union also believes that a better deal for London Underground workers can best be achieved by all trade unions in London Underground taking a united approach in this matter and that is why the RMT will continue to pursue unity in a way which has already seen much progress being made.

I will of course keep you advised of all further developments in your union’s campaign to win pay justice for you and your colleagues.

Bob Crow
General Secretary

 The press release clearly explains the reasons why the offer was rejected, and emphasises that they will continue to negotiate for a better deal. However, the rejection of the pay offer story has been mentioned in the same breath as the recent announcement of industrial action over a completely unrelated matter, which gives a somewhat disdainful representation of the reasons for the industrial action.

Reason for industrial action

A press release published on the RMT website yesterday explains the reason for impending strike action and they are completely unrelated to the rejection of the pay offer from London Underground – it is due to the sacking of two Union workers:

 “TUBE UNION RMT announced today that members have voted by almost two to one for strike action in a ballot of all train operator and instructor operator members in the on-going disputes over the victimisation of union activists including two driver members – Eamon Lynch and Arwyn Thomas – over their trade union activities. RMT will now consider the appropriate course of action.

 Eamon Lynch, RMT Bakerloo Line drivers’ health and safety rep, has been sacked by LU and although he remains on full pay following the union’s victory on Eamon’s behalf at an “interim relief” Employment Tribunal hearing the company has shown total contempt for the Tribunal process and have upheld his sacking. Interim relief is only ever granted by the Employment Tribunal where there is the clearest possible evidence that an employee has been dismissed on the grounds of their trade union activities. RMT is currently awaiting the outcome of Eamon’s full tribunal hearing.

 Arwyn Thomas, a long-standing RMT activist and driver at Morden has been sacked on trumped-up disciplinary charges following unproven allegations made against him by strike breakers. Arwyn has been an RMT/NUR member for over 29 years and has held various positions in the union. Arwyn has also won an interim relief hearing at the Employment Tribunal on the grounds of his victimisation as an RMT activist and has been put back on full pay as a result.

 

We await the decision of the Tribunal in due course, pre supposing that it continues to a full hearing. I wonder if mediation might not be a better method to resolve this dispute.

Having read the above the question is do you support the strike action?  

Philip Henson

Partner, Bargate Murray

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