The Anonymous Widower

The Ridiculous Tube Strikes

The RMT is calling a series of strikes on the Tube over the next few weeks.  If ever there was a ridiculous set of strikes it is these.

The facts are a bit cloudy but it would appear that two drivers have been sacked. Transport for London says one thing and the RMT says another. Apparently, the cases of the two men are going before an Employment Tribunal.

So surely, all parties should cool off until the results of that!

The interesting things to read are the comments on the various news items on the BBC, The Times and other serious media.  I have searched extensively, and can’t find any comment in favour of the drivers actions.  As several thousand of them voted for the strikes, surely one or two could put a few words together to explain why they are striking.

In my view this strike and some of the others that have proceeded it is not about the issues, but is a result of the fact that the RMT has seen the writing on the wall of the future and doesn’t like it.

At present on the Victoria and Jubilee lines, the drivers effectively close the doors when everything is clear and start the train in the station and then it proceeds automatically until the next one. The Victoria line has had this method of operation since 1967. So surely, all lines will be updated to work this way in the next few years.

So in effect drivers will not drive the train anymore, but will effectively be train captains managing the train and its passengers.  Obviously in an emergency, they would have an important role to play.

But because of the automation it is only one small step to drive the trains remotely. Even if this doesn’t happen, as costs in public services come under pressure, automation will mean that drivers can work safer and in a less stressful environment.

So as they are well-paid would many feel they don’t need the Union!

In other words, this strike may be more about Union survival, than any individual grievance.

It was the same in the printing industry, where in the 1960s and 1970s, the unions put vast numbers of companies out of business because of their attitude and refusal to accept new technology. My father was a printer at the time and his business was ruined because new technology made his business easy to bring in house.  The unions only had one place of power and that was newspapers.  So we had days without papers and all sorts of Spanish practices.  The Times even shut for a year to reform its working practices.

Hopefully we won’t see anything as drastic as that, but Transport for London must stand up to the bullying tactics of the RMT.  They in turn, should behave like a responsible union.

Both parties should also wait for the Employment Tribunal.

It is the least Londoners could ask for.

May 5, 2011 - Posted by | News, Transport | ,


  1. The sacked workers are union activists and RMT is striking to try and stop more targeting of union reps.

    I worked at the Times group at the time of the year off – it’s a myth that this was a one sided union power story – the managements of the time were also trying to impose all sorts of draconian changes as well as new technology.

    Comment by Marc | May 5, 2011 | Reply

    • I’ll agree about it was a two sided power struggle, but the attitude of the newspapers and their unions completely sidetracked the story from where the pain happened. And that was in small to medium sized printing firms all over the country. My father employed about a dozen people in 1960, as he had done for perhaps 20 years. Two years later the firm was dead and all those jobs were gone.

      Comment by AnonW | May 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. Most of the union involvement I have had has been positive at one time I was in the position where my role could have been manipulated to replace paid staff with volunteer staff. And I was determined that was not going to happen. I was one of the JUC’s favourite managers for that. Indeed, they got me a good ill health retirement deal when I left.

    Comment by liz | May 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. But whatever the cause ofv this strike on the Underground, I can’t find any comments in favour of it on any message boards.

    I should also say that one of my travelling companions about ten years ago was a Central Line driver. I will not repeat the things he told me, but in the end he took early retirement. And it wasn’t because of the job, which he loved!

    Comment by AnonW | May 5, 2011 | Reply

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