Fran Legg and Alistair Cartwright talk to a union rep on this morning’s picket at London Bridge

The tube workers picket at London Bridge was looking strong at 8am this morning, with 25 RMT and TSSA members outside the entrance to one of London’s busiest stations. Banners were up and leaflets explaining the reasons for the strike were being handed out by both unions.

Fran Legg and Alistair Cartwright spoke to Eamonn Lynch from the RMT

Can you tell us why you’re striking today?

We’re striking to save 1,000 jobs and stop pay cuts of up to £10,000 to people’s wages. Negotiation is the way forward but Boris Johnson and London Underground are conducting a sham consultation. On the radio yesterday Johnson said he had never heard of the HR1, the legal document employers are supposed to issue to workers giving them 90 days notice before any redundancies are decided on. He’s acting like a spoilt brat. in his mind the jobs are already gone.

Why is this particular strike important?

Although the RMT is not the biggest union it is the fastest growing. It is one of the best at standing up for its members jobs. The strike is also a demonstration of solidarity and the joint action of the TSSA is to be congratulated.

How’s it been going so far, what’s the public response been like?

The picket started at 4.30am and London Underground managers planned to open the station at 5.20am. In the end they only opened at 8am with 25 volunteers from the Olympics team substituting for regular tube workers. The question is, who’s going to do their jobs?
The reaction from the public has been fairly positive, especially because we spent a good amount of time round the national rail side of London Bridge directing people to other means of transport and generally assisting them to travel without using the underground.

What do you think of Cameron’s statement in the Evening Standard yesterday, where he called the strikes ‘shameful’?

You have to look at his comments in 2011. Discussing the future of TFL Cameron stated the best way to resolve disputes was through negotiation and consultation, not for politicians to make political capital. He might say we’re costing London millions of pounds but this is the only thing we’ve got to fight with – our labour.
Boris Johnson meanwhile was elected on a promise of keeping all ticket offices open. He’s lied to us..

They say this is about efficiency. If you were running the tube system, what would you do?

We need a tube system fit for the 21st century. That means accessibility for all. People with disabilities shouldn’t have to phone up days in advance to make arrangements – they should be guaranteed the service they need at every station, whenever and wherever they want to travel. When we speak to travellers with disabilities and organisations involved with them this is always what they say: we want independence; independence is the key to accessibility. Why should we treat people like they’re lepers or somehow unwanted?

More generally you’ve seen the queues at ticket offices getting longer and longer as more and more staff hours are cut. Ticket offices are important because they provide a central point for getting assistance. We need more staff not less.

Thanks to Eamonn Lynch and all the RMT and TSSA picketers for speaking with us. Good luck to them for the coming days!

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