Today’s strike on the London Underground, which has disrupted hundreds of thousands of journeys into work, will almost certainly lead to a Tory election manifesto pledge to toughen trade union laws.
This is exactly what the Conservatives have been striving for. They make no secret of despising the unions – and what better way to bring about reform then by infuriating the entire population of London by allowing the tube strikes to go ahead?
All we know is that the cramped, sweaty, three hour ordeal this morning is all down to the Unions and some horrid man called Crow. On Twitter, David Cameron added more fuel to the fire by saying the “shameful” strike would bring “misery to millions of Londoners”. Boris hasn’t been much better, bickering on the radio and telling us how many billions this nonsense will cost the taxpayer.
As a tax-paying commuter, I’m understandably annoyed at the strikes. I’m angry that travelling anywhere for the next two days will be a nightmare and I’m infuriated that I’ll also have to pick up the bill. I am utterly against the tube strikes – but I don’t blame the TFL workers.
Why was the government so reluctant to negotiate, be civil, and prevent the strikes? Why are our nation’s leaders attacking each other across the radio, bickering on TV, whingeing on Twitter, when they could have put that energy into finding the best possible solution for the taxpayer? Because a strike is exactly what they wanted.
Bob Crow and Manuel Cortes, leaders of the RMT and the TSSA, have accused Boris of refusing to meet them to discuss the ticket office closures. Crow even resorted to ringing up Johnson yesterday at LBC Radio where the mayor was hosting a phone-in show and trying to negotiate over the air.
The government put all their energy into PR and it worked: now the commuting public hate the unions and the Tories are in an ideal position to bully them into submission. If the government really had our best interests at heart, they would have prevented the strikes at any cost, rather than spending all their energy on rousing the public to fury.
But Crow is also to blame. Just like TFL need to modernise their services, the unions need to move with the times. If there’s one thing Thatcher taught us, it’s that striking will make you the most unpopular workforce in the country. The unions need to get their members’ voices heard, but striking gives them so much bad publicity that they’ve shot themselves in the foot before they’ve had a chance.
I can understand their concern, because I think the proposed changes and job cuts to the underground are just the tip of the iceberg. The real fear of the RMT is that this is a dry run for the eventual removal of all staff and drivers on the London Underground and a move to automated trains, which means thousands of job losses. But walking out on your customers when they need you is a terrible way to rally people to your cause.
The unions need to invest in PR to get their voices heard, just like the Tories do, rather than inconveniencing the nation with petty strike action.