#DearRMT

There is a hashtag currently on Twitter where people can post their feelings about the tube strike. It is depressing, with the primary emotion appearing to be #SafetyMyArse. But do you know who I blame? In an apparently counterintuitive move, I blame the RMT.

This set of strikes does, for once, have an arguable logic behind it. Closing ticket offices will affect people, from those who have problems using ticket machines (disabled, those with learning difficulties) and people who, for whatever reason, don’t use Oyster (an old commute of mine out to Milton Keynes, for example, could only be done using paper tickets incorporating a TfL travelcard). And I can say from experience that using a station where the ticket office isn’t open half the time can be unnerving. I presume there are staff at Hither Green somewhere, but I have no idea where they are. On the other hand, economic realities and all that… London Reconnections have a good summary of the arguments for and against, which is worth a read.

But there have been so many tube strikes, so many interviews with Bob Crow’s belligerent face peering out of our TV screens, so many disputes that should have remained local that have resulted in total network walkouts, so many strikes called and then called off when negotiations were held… The RMT have cried wolf too often. A strike is a valuable tool and I’ve often felt that the transport unions have devalued it; the outpouring of public bile during these strikes seem to confirm it. Hardly anybody believes what they say. I’m not sure all that many people know what the strike is about. For once the RMT could have a point, but they’ve pissed everybody off to the point where nobody wants to listen.

Can we have a round of sarcastic applause, please? Thanks.

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3 responses to “#DearRMT

  1. AndyB November 3, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Whether or not you agree with the RMT’s arguments about ticket offices (and I do not) isn’t the point.

    I elected the mayor to run Transport for London, not the RMT. It isn’t the job of the RMT to campaign or strike on issues of public convenience or even safety ‘on behalf of the public’ – it’s the job of the RMT to campaign solely on behalf of its members interests.

    By presuming to campaign on the public’s behalf, RMT are undermining democracy in London. The travelling public didn’t vote for Bob Crow, and personally I don’t support him. We did vote for the mayor, and the mayor has to answer to us at the ballot box.

    This is all about Bob Crow’s personal beliefs and his need to exercise power. ‘Health and safety’ is merely a justification to try and gain some public support.

  2. Tom W November 3, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    “I’m not sure all that many people know what the strike is about.”

    True. Because no newspaper is interested in covering it. It’s much easier to just stoke up commuter anger that they’re inconvenienced, and blame Bob Crow personally as if he just snaps his fingers and the staff walk out. It’s nonsense. A strike is called when union members vote for one, not when the union’s leader decides.

    I agree with AndyB, above, on one thing though: the mayor was elected to run Transport for London. He came to office claiming he would agree a no-strike agreement. He has not even spoken to union leaders to try and come to any sort of agreement: http://mqt.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/supplementaryquestion.do?id=15800. I find that pretty appalling.

  3. Dave November 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Well I agree. Strikes like this, especially from a body that has repeatedly proved that it cannot be trusted to use industrial action responsibly, are counter-productive. If the RMT (and TSSA?) want to get people to buy into their message about ticket office closures, they are going about it the wrong way.

    This Tweet really sums up the effectiveness of this action: http://bit.ly/91tyiY

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