[dropcap size=small bg_color=”#21409a”]A[/dropcap] Tube worker told the Guardian: “I feel alienated by a company that treats staff as if they are slaves”. I’ve never seen so-called slaves so well treated.
The tube driver pay is over £50,000 basic rate. On top of this, tube drivers benefit from a short 36 hour week and 43 days annual leave – a package any worker would dream of.
By contrast, a teacher can be expected to earn £7.60/hr, working a 56 hour week and if they are lucky, half the number of days paid leave. A German tube driver – who already work night shifts – should expect around £27,000 a year – almost half the same pay. Train drivers’ wages are closer to chartered accountants than nurses.
The RMT say that they are being forced to work extra hours, or forced to work more night shifts, or will have to work more night shifts in a row – that Tube drivers are forced into working antisocial hours.
But the most recent offer to the striking drivers included: an inflation-busting salary increase, a £200/night pay bonus for every night shift, at least two days off in every seven for tube drivers and no increase in the weekends worked.
If I had a problem with any specific hours, I would swap my shift with someone else. If I had a problem working antisocial hours, I find a more suitable job.
The union leaders ignore any solution that doesn’t involve the status quo, where their members get paid twice as much as nurses and policemen – and where the union leaders earned eight times as much – because they benefit from holding London at ransom to their benefit.
If you think I am exaggerating, look at the record: the union was against the DLR when it was introduced; they were against the Oyster card on its introduction. Now, they are striking against unsociable hours – in other words, against night trains in London. Constantly on the wrong side of progress, the RMT works constantly against a better service.
Don’t misunderstand the situation: the unions have been offered a great deal on top of a great package, their concerns have been more than adequately met, and don’t have any clear demands (apart from that catch-all platitude ‘better treatment’).
The original complaint was that there was the potential for unlimited weekend shifts forced upon existing staff. So the new offer included clauses stating more people will be hired for working the Tube at night, and that no Tube conductor will have to work any more weekends than before. Yet now the words ‘strike’ has been whispered, the union leaders are forcing the conductors to march onwards, with no demands but a desire for upheaval.
If you earn over £50,000, then you shouldn’t complain about working night shifts as a train conductor, frankly. Tens of thousands of Londoners would accept the generous pay packet currently in place, yet the unions are stopping the Tube from hiring new staff. That said, London Underground acquiesced to the militant union’s demands. So why have the unions not stopped striking?
Shelagh Fogarty on LBC talked about her experience of the Tube strike: “I shared a cab with a woman who was standing at a bus stop on crutches, and I invited her into my cab. She had a hospital appointment she was not going to make. And this was a situation that would be replicated again and again and again.” This isn’t a question of the right to strike – this is a question of the morality, and the justification, of the strike. And there is no justification.
The strikes are from the incredibly well-off, striking with no purpose other than their absurdly well-off union leaders telling them so, and end up harming the most vulnerable in society. Ridiculous.
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