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Wednesday, December 14, 2011


tis the season to be merry, good will to all men and all that.
it is also the season of avarice. no doubt we will shortly be having all the banker bonus stories, after all there are a lot of journalists out there who want to remind us that they are not the worst people in the world.

before get to that we have to play out what is now becoming part of the annual london panto season: the boxing day tube strike.
it is hard to criticise workers or unions working to protect and benefit their workers. it is even harder to feel any sympathy for any worker on london transport who says they need to come out on strike.

aslef (associated society of locomotive engineers and firemen)are calling their members out on a boxing day strike (with three more walkouts in the new year).
why are they striking? because they want work to be voluntary on boxing day and they want anyone who chooses to work on that day to be 'incentivised' - basically trple pay and a day off in lieu.
the temptation is to say good on them for sticking up for the rights of the worker and for getting better conditions of work for them. the union is on about 'adequate compensation' for working on such an 'unsocialble day'.
except, it appears, they have already made an arrangement for bank holidays (and let's be honest here boxing day, for most, is just another bank holiday)which sees tube drivers earning over £44k, well above the national average, (it is due to rise to £50k over the coming years), work a 35-hour week and get 43 days holiday a year. all in all a pretty sweet deal.
the timing of the strike announcement is little more than cynical blackmail. (though i am sure there has been a lot of negotiations going on in the background, this is still rank oppurtunism).

bob crowe's rmt (rail, maritime and transport workers)will more than likely support the action by not crossing the picket line. (as an aside there is a poll on the rmt's website asking if george osborne's austerity measures will help the uk economy - currently is showing 63% of respondents say yes they will).

so it is looking like there will be no tubes in london on boxing day. unless of course transport for london (tfL) capitulates.

it also throws into doubt the rather nice deal that tfl has done with the transport workers for the olympics. if i were a betting man i would lay good money down that around april or may we will see mark whelan or bob crowe ask for a better deal for their members.

the funny thing about it is that there will be little to no sympathy for them if they strike and it plays straight into the hands of boris johnson who can claim he will be tough on the transport unions in order to keep london running. expect to see more stories about driverless tube trains in the coming months.

naturally if i get back into the workforce i want a union like aslef or rmt looking after me.

on the plus side there are a range of bankers out there who are thanking santa claus for the gift of a group of londoners who will be even more hated than they are.
take a bow you tube drivers.

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