The Strike Ballot: Your Questions Answered

RMT's rep on the Goodge Street group of stations has produced this excellent question-and-answer article about our ballot for industrial action ...

What are the issues?

Pay. LUL’s pay offer is a five year pay cut. We want a decent pay rise.

No compulsory redundancies. All London Underground staff are protected by an a no compulsory redundancies agreement (Jobs for Life): if your job is abolished, they find you another one. The company now needs to make big cuts cos it’s £3 billion in debt since bailing out failed privateer Metronet. Their new ‘Organisation for Change’ policy will destroy our guarantee against compulsory redundancies. They are starting with 1000 non-operational jobs, but the job cuts will spread, threatening all of us. It will take a lot of job cuts to recover £3 billion! Look at the business needs schematics and most of our duties are ‘superfluous’ to the company. And how will we defend our jobs post-Olympics if our job security is gone?

End management bullying! London Underground have been sacking people for their sickness records, abusing the attendance policy, refusing to use their discretion when issuing warnings. This is a chance to send a strong message to management that these abuses must stop! Being sick is not a crime!

How do I vote? What happens next?

1. Fill out your ballot paper. Vote yes to both:

Action short of a strike means things like work to rule. It means we can vary our tactics to have the best possible impact

2. Send it back in the freepost envelope by April 8th

A big ‘yes’ vote will put pressure on management and give us a mandate to take action if they necessary. If you have not received your ballot paper by Friday, contact me (see below) or RMT head office on 0207 387 4771.

Pay: what did we ask for and what has LUL offered?

We asked for: a one-year deal, a substantial pay increase, a minimum of £26k a year, a shorter working week, family friendly working.

And they offered us: A five-year deal, taking us past the Olympics. This year: RPI (the government’s measure of inflation) +1% . For the next 4 years: RPI only.

Spot the difference! With RPI now at 0%, this means a 1% rise this year. But living costs are still rocketing. We need a pay rise! And who knows what the economy will be doing in five weeks, never mind five years?! We need to be able to ask for pay in line with living costs over every year.

Did you know? During the Sydney Olympics, transport workers got an extra $1.50 an hour? They were paid 30% above their normal rate. We can kiss goodbye to anything like that if we accept this deal now.

Will it make a difference if I support the strike? We always get the same result in the end.

You inevitably make a difference. Either you make the action stronger, increasing our chance of winning. Or you make it weaker. We only get what we are strong enough to fight for.

Shouldn’t RMT be ‘reasonable’ and not ask too much?

Look at our demands. Which one is unreasonable? Which would you say no to?

Management will not ‘reason’ with us. They said no to everything we asked.

Management’s idea of ‘reasonable’ is not the same as ours. They are driven by cost cutting - our pay or jobs are just figures in their account book. But it is our lives and our livelihoods! The decision-making managers on £100,000+k per year can’t understand the pressure of a five year pay cut. We should not be afraid to listen to our own reasoning, instead of management’s. To care about your standard of living is not a bad instinct.

I agree we should have a pay rise but why do we need to strike?

If we had a better way of making our opinion count, we would have found it by now. If you agree with our opinion, you need to fight for it. Otherwise, it will just get ignored.

Shouldn’t we be sensitive to people in other industries suffering pay and job cuts?

We are! We can see it. But we don’t think that the solution is to accept more of the same. Unlike many, we have a strong enough union to defend us. We hope that other workers will see what we are doing and feel inspired to fight back too. We need a fight against pay and job cuts across the board - like the recent General Strikes in France, where rail workers have joined other workers fighting the effects of the recession.

Imagine what the Evening Standard will say! We need to get the public on our side.

The Evening Standard last week called for more government funding to fill the deficit caused by the Public Private Partnership. So they agree with us! We should make our case, but some will never be convinced. And we should not let them stop us.

Other grades never support us. Will we end up fighting alone?

This ballot includes drivers, signals, former Metronet staff, even managers and admin. RMT is balloting members on TfL too. Reports from other areas and grades say there is a lot of support. Support this strike, and you will be part of some effective action.