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Clare Birkett offers five good reasons to back the Tube strikes

Picket line at Harrow on the Hill station. Photo by Manuel Cortes

This week sees London tube workers heading above ground in the first of a a strike organised by The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) against Boris Johnson's plan to make changes to tube services.

The changes will result in job losses, salary cuts, the closure of ticket offices and the redistribution of staff in tube stations.

Below are five reasons to support the strike.

1) Boris's plan means that 950 tube workers will lose their jobs. While some of these workers are opting for voluntary redundancy, this is poor consolation for unemployment. 200 of these workers will be moved to other jobs within TFL, but many of them are currently supervisors, so accepting these new roles would mean taking a large pay cut.

Furthermore, the proposal is that many of these staff will be moved to jobs working for the proposed 24 hour weekend tube service, which would entail completely different and often inconvenient working hours, including working weekends and nightshifts.

2) Closing ticket offices would leave fewer staff at some stations, meaning fewer staff to deal with emergencies, compromising the safety of passengers. In the case of 125 local stations, just one staff member will be left on duty, with one supervisor covering 6 stations. 

3) Fewer front-line staff in tube stations also means it could be harder for disabled people to travel by tube. The last round of staff cuts was correlated with disabled people having greater difficulty travelling by tube. This government's onslaught of cuts to public services and welfare provision already affects disabled people more than anyone else.

4) The Boris promise. In his election campaign in 2008 Boris promised to keep ticket offices at tube stations open. If we don't stand with strikers in their bid to keep Boris to his word, people in power will think that reneging on their promises is acceptable, and will be more inclined do whatever they want in future.

5) We have the money! These staffing cuts aren't economically necessary. Tax Justice Network estimates that the UK is missing out on £120 billion taxes every year through uncollected taxes, tax evasion and avoidance . We could pay tube staff easily if the government decided to recoup these lost taxes. Furthermore, these job cuts will only save 6% of the necessary £50 million that TFL needs to save due to budget cuts.


By supporting striking tube workers, we can build links of solidarity with community members who we might need support from later in our own fights for other services. This isn't the first and won't be the last cut to essential services that this coalition is trying to push through. With the NHS being privatised through the back door, fire stations being closed across the country, and education becoming less and less affordable, it's likely that in the near future we're all going to need as much support as possible to keep our hospitals open, our education free and other welfare and public services available and of good quality.

How you can support the strike

  1. Avoid using the tube during the strikes. The more the tube comes to a standstill, the more effective the strike.
  2. If you have one minute tweet your support for the tube strike. Let @MayorofLondon know that you support the strike, and don't forget to use hashtags #StopTubeCuts and #TubeStrike.
  3. If you have half an hour go to your local picket line and talk to the striking workers, letting them know that you support what they're doing.

Will there be more strikes?

The strike finishes today, but a second 48-hour walkout is due to begin at 21:00 GMT on 11th February. Revenue strikes will take place on Friday 7th February, Monday 10th February and Friday 14th February between 9.30am-11.30am and 6.30pm-8.30pm. Revenue action means that tube workers will cease checking or issuing tickets, essentially allowing passengers to travel for free. Unlike during the strikes 4-6th Feb and 11-13th Feb, during the revenue strikes members of the public supporting the strikes can travel by tube without undermining the strikers' cause.

Tagged under: Trade Union Strike

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