The Socialist 19 July 2002 |
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Safety Before Profit!
NEW EVIDENCE of the responsibility of private contractors for the Potters Bar rail crash emerges almost daily, but still tube-workers have to walk out on strike to stop the government handing control of London Underground's tracks to the same firms. Those firms, Jarvis, Balfour Beatty and others have brought disaster and chaos to the mainline railways.
Bill Johnson, RMT
Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' Union (RMT) members have voted by eight to one to strike on Thursday 18 July against the safety implications of the government's PPP scheme to part-privatise the Tube.
RMT and drivers' union ASLEF took strike action against PPP last year. That dispute was settled when London Underground (LU) promised not to make redundancies amongst workers maintaining track, signals and rolling stock.
This time around only RMT has balloted. ASLEF members should ask their union's leaders why they have abandoned the fight against PPP. ASLEF has seen at first hand what happens when train drivers are forced to run over an unsafe system.
Trade unionists should be doing everything possible to stop the crisis of privatised railways spreading to the tube.
Many ASLEF drivers will respect RMT picket lines and join other drivers who are in RMT, together with station, signal and infrastructure workers.
RMT is at present limiting its demands to a period of consultation over safety arrangements (known as 'the safety case'), before PPP can go ahead.
The RMT leadership should be applauded for organising further strike action. But they must make sure that it does not accept a fudged deal that LU and the government can use to defuse strike action before going ahead with PPP after nominal 'consultation'.
Management's deals cannot be trusted. Last year's 'no redundancy' agreement is already unravelling as management continue to re-write their interpretation of the deal.
This round of strike action must be supported by both tube-workers and passengers. The government is bent on privatisation at any cost while the servile Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has given the go-ahead for PPP just as it did for Railtrack.
HSE is incapable of securing workers' or passengers' safety. It is now up to tube-workers to strike for a safe Tube
What Would PPP Mean For Passengers?
A repeat of the failed system of fragmentation and use of sub-contractors that has failed so disastrously on the mainline railways.
Massive handouts to private firms who will receive bonus payments for providing a service 5% worse than at present.
LU aim to increase fare revenue by 40% to help pay for PPP.
Timetables for investment in new trains have already been put back to the second half of the thirty-year contracts.
The tube will become a money-making scheme for big-business instead of the efficient public transport service that London needs.