On 13th February , at a meeting of the Workmates Collective, a Tube Workers body at a west London Depot, a proposal was carried unanimously by the 150 or so attending to set up a council consisting of a delegate from each gang. Up until then, the collective had been organised by a handful of RMT workplace reps; now, organisation has passed to the newly formed Workmates Council of recallable gang delegates, moving toward a libertarian formation (anarcho-syndicalism) instead.
Coming from various engineering departments on the Underground (including track installers, track welders, crossing makers, carpenters, ultrasonic rail testers, track vent cleaning gangs, and lorry drivers), many people work alongside large numbers of barely unionised subcontracted labour.
The collective of 250 plus workers was formed and initially centred around the fight against the prevarication of London Underground (PPP) over the last 5 years, with the agency workers showing their LUL workmates the utmost loyalty during various strikes. The pace was set early on with agency track installers/welders, some of whom had been Yorkshire and Kent miners, and has been maintained ever since. Solidarity was also extended in dealing with health & safety issues affecting staff and agency workers alike, often resulting in mass “refusals to work on the grounds of health & safety” when necessary.
At the time of writing, the various gangs are going through the process of nominating their delegates, with initial delegates meetings to form the council. A number of gangs have already nominated a delegate, and everything is said to look on “track”(!).
We at Catalyst extend fraternal greetings and solidarity to the Workmates Collective.