RMT members working for Serco, who operate the London bicycle scheme today started a 48-hour strike. The action is against the imposition of a 2% pay increase, which is nearly 1% less than RPI inflation, meaning that it is in reality a pay cut when the salaries of Serco directors has increased by over 60% in the last 7 years. But this isn’t the only reason for the workers voting unanimously for the strike. In the same vein to forcing the pay rise without meaningful negotiation, management have also imposed changes to rosters and hours. Also pickets told NSSN supporters that they have been the victims of constant bullying, harassment and general disrespect from management. But they feel that the strike is absolutely necessary to show Serco that they are prepared to stand up to management.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow addressed the strikers along with John Reid the London Transport regional secretary. Bob praised the strikers for taking this action, despite it being the first time for them after facing management’s attacks for three years. “I want to tell you that you’re not on your own. I’m bringing the full support of the whole 80,000 members of our union.”
NSSN supporters were at the Serco picket line in Islington at 5am and then got to London Bridge for 8am to support the protest by the ‘J33’ workers who were ‘released’ – sacked by London Underground (LU) when the agency Trainspeople lost their contract earlier this year. Despite 200 jobs being advertised by LU, 33 of the workers were ignored despite some of them working on a variety of duties for up to 5 years. The RMT have backed their campaign with continuous protests, many of which have been covered by the NSSN website. Today, the sacked workers marched from the station to the Mayor’s office in the middle of the road, without permission. After a loud protest, they then moved off to visit their striking RMT comrades in Serco to give their own solidarity.
Both of these struggles are difficult disputes by inexperienced workers against vicious managements but the RMT have shown in London that they are prepared to represent their members strongly in all areas. The recent victory by RMT at an employment tribunal by Churchill cleaners on the Tyne and Wear Metro after a protracted dispute, show that workers can win victories, even when the odds seem stacked against them.