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From: "SchNEWS" (
To: "SchNEWS Subscribers" (
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 22:26:06 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 197, Friday 15 January


On the same day activists were busy occupying Shell's London offices, people from Reclaim The Streets (RTS) occupied the head office of London Underground, St. James' Square, in protest at plans to privatise the tube.

Tube workers had voted to go on strike today but their action was called off by their union after London Transport management got a court order under the anti-strike laws. Dee Locke from RTS said "Despite the fact that the privatisation of British rail is now recognised as a disaster, New Labour is proceeding with plans to sell off parts of the tube network." In December, John Prescott signed papers allowing private companies to start 'shadowing' London Transport management to get an idea of what sort of business they will be taking over, what corners can be cut, what workers they can sack. It's estimated that the privatisation process will cost around £100 million - money that could be better spent on improving the service.

Statement from RTS

Whenever transport workers go on strike the Standard and other rags talk of 'Misery on the Roads and on the Rails'. But we know the reality is the opposite. Strikes are good for the spirit. Commuters get the day off work, tube workers get to socialise on the picket lines and down the pub instead of working. Business leaders talk of damage to London's economy. But what is that economy really about? It is about lots of people working hard just to survive while making profits for others to live at their expense. We say fuck the economy! We want to damage that which damages us. The economy is a human misery. By striking tube workers reduce the misery! Anyway, only by using their economic muscle can the tube workers defend their own interests against the attempt to make them work harder for less, which is what privatisation is about. However London Transport's legal move and the RMT's call off of the strike action shows that tube workers need to consider their tactics. Understandably workers often feel that only by taking legal official action can they be safe. But their only real safety lies in sticking together. If strikers respect the union laws they are unlikely to win, that is what the laws are all about. Recently in an ongoing fight with management, electricians on the Jubilee Line Extension have shown that by not listening to their union when it tells them to obey the anti-strike laws workers win. They have learnt that it is not through legalistic union methods but by direct action and solidarity that workers can defend their interests. Today RTS are saying that we stand with workers against their bosses, against New Labour and for autonomous direct action for a better world.

Reclaim the Streets: 0171 281 4621

* Last year Virgin Trains received 195,000 letters of complaint, and 7,000 phone calls each month

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