Remember us speculating about a possible Summer of Discontent on the rail and tube networks, with hardline troublemaker Bob Crow testing out Boris’s mettle while the Blond Blunderer attempts to channel the spirit of Thatcher?  It’s not quite worked out as it did for the Iron Lady:

Workers on London Overground are to receive a 20% average increase in wages after the successful conclusion of negotiations with the RMT.  RMT members had given their negotiators a massive 10-1 mandate for strike action in the run up to the talks which was a clear reflection of their anger over feeling unrewarded and undervalued for many years.

In addition to the pay increase, it was also agreed that there would be no extension of driver only operated trains. As a result, the conductors have not only kept their jobs but a further 23 new posts have been created.

RMT is carrying out a referendum ballot of members with a recommendation to accept the company’s offer.

“This is a massive victory for RMT members on London Overground who have fought hard for a decent pay deal and it proves that the RMT has the organizational strength to deliver real gains for our members,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

“I would like to congratulate all of our members who have stood firm during these negotiations and this is a result that they fully deserve,” Bob Crow said.

20% wage increase?  In a recession where we all have to tighten our belts and Boris speaks sternly to the Standard about how strapped for cash they are at TfL Towers and that bonuses and salary cuts are on the menu, doubtless along with gruel?  Oh dear, Boris, I do hope this doesn’t get out.  The Tories will hate it.  Still, on the bright side it avoids the bizarre situation where Boris would be introducing conductors/PCSOs/whatever onto buses on the one hand while withdrawing guards from the Overground with the other – one of the concessions was a promise not to introduce more Driver Only Operation on London Overground.

More to the point for the unfortunate travelling public, Bob and the boys will doubtless be back for more.  There’s already a two-day strike in the offing on the Victoria Line, for instance, as well as the simmering dispute about TfL job cuts.  I’m sure Thatcher would, in her prime, be sternly telling jelly-spine Johnson to stand firm against these unwashed communists for the good of the Nation but sadly for union-bashing Tories everywhere he doesn’t seem to be made of the same stuff – far from wrenching the RMT’s thumb off the windpipe of the London commuter Boris appears to have got a swift kick in the happy sacks for his trouble.

How’s that No-Strike Agreement coming on, anyway?

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9 Responses to RMT: Boris Caves In

  1. Mark Lee says:

    20%? 20 frigging percent?! What concessions did Boris win here? I would really only expect such an increase in exchange for DOO. He’s made himself look like a soft target now, I envisage many more strikes over pay in the coming months…

  2. AdamB says:

    Well that’s one way to ensure a no strike agreement. Just agree to their every demand.

  3. http://www.stopboris.org/blog/2008/03/27/whos-he-gonna-call-union-busters/

    Tony Travers … told the Guardian that the RMT would prefer a Johnson victory because the union believed that despite his posturing the Tory candidate would be easier to beat than Livingstone, who had been “hard and canny” in negotiations.

    Bob Crow’s vote for Boris didn’t go to waste then.

    20%! I look forward to outrage in the Standard.

  4. AdamB says:

    Ha ha. Love the first comment from Peter Dawes. ‘Ifs and ifs’

  5. Tom says:

    This is very true. I’m all for fair wages and treating staff well, but this is a tad generous even for my taste. I’d not have heard about it if it hadn’t been next to the Victoria Line strike announcement on the RMT’s news page.

    TfL are trying to say it’s a matter for London Overground Operations (LOROL) but they’re only the concessionaire and I’m not sure of the degree to which the joint venture companies Deutsche Bahn and MTR are willing to suck up a 20% rise in staff costs. TfL effectively control their income by controlling fare levels, of course, so they can’t really claw it back that way.

  6. AdamB says:

    *waits for the Gilligan column blaming it all on ‘Transport for Livingstone’*

  7. Peter says:

    The overground pay rises ranged from 12 to 20 per cent dependant on grade to bring these workers wages up to the industry standard. I’m wondering not why they got such a pay rise but why they earned so much less than the average up until then?

    On the Victoria line the strike is over a driver being sacked for apparently opening doors on the wrong side for 0.6 seconds (so they moved about an inch before he closed them). incidentally, the vic line is the only one which doesn’t have safety equiptment to protect customers from doors being opened on the wrong side, so the strike there is to improve safety for customers and get a colleague his job back

  8. Tom says:

    Overground staff were notably badly paid under Silverlink, so I don’t grudge them an increase – it’s the gap between reality and Boris-world tough-talking rhetoric that I’m seeking to highlight here, since it’s going to get him into trouble. The RMT item did mention that the *average* rise was 20%, though, not a range from 12% to 20% – was that wrong?

    On the Victoria issue, the imminent new trains will have the right-side door opening lock installed, but the current ones don’t. I hadn’t heard the sacking was just for opening the door in the wrong place, though, but the word on various sites is that LUL management are taking a harder disciplinary line in general, the consequence of which is that the Victoria Line train operators are the only group who face the prospect of dismissal for an error which is impossible to make on the rest of the network. When this tough line started I’ve no idea; it could be Boris, I suppose, since there’s been long enough since he came in for a new management line to percolate down and stoke up resentment, though quite what he’d hope to gain I’ve no idea – I don’t think he has got it in him to face down the unions and win, manifesto or not.

    The RMT must know that there’s no chance of getting the system fitted to trains going out of service soon, though, so bleating about safety demeans what sounds, at bottom, like a conventional staff/management dispute, not a safety one.

  9. charlie bishop says:

    up the london bus drivers

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