Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Hmm... tube strike. Glad I'm off!

Once again, the Tube is pretty much flat on its' back, thanks to a strike over pay etc.

Having seen the news, listened to the traffic jam reports as well, is that I'm damned glad I'm on two rostered nights off right now. I go back to driving my bus on Thursday night shift, unfortunately smack dab into the end of the strike, but at least I won't have to contend with much in the way of extended traffic jams in central London.

I pity my bus driver colleagues from all the bus operating companies in this traffic, I really do. They're likely as not getting the thick end of tempers from irate (and late) passengers who only want to get home.

I also feel for the passengers, in a way, too, but only because they're stuck squarely between and rock and a hard place, smack dab in the middle of the situation.

Now, I'm a Pro-Union man at the end of the day, even if I'm a member of a different one (the T&GWU), and if my Union calls me out on strike, that's where I go: "United We Stand, Divided We Fall", being the operative working phrase. Unions are there, first and foremost, to protect a workers' Rights. They also provide other material benefits, by group negotiations on pay and conditions, discounts with such places as insurance companies, finance houses, and so on. It's a widespread network of support that a Union provides its' members, and rightly so. But the weapons at our disposal against employers who want to hold us down with unfair situations, be those pay, conditions, or whatever, are a graduated series of measures, from press campaigns, to working to rule, to the ultimate weapon of strike action, where we withhold our services to an employer in protest at their actions or inactions in regard to the problem at hand.

This is the place the Tube Driving RMT membership finds itself at. And before you say "but the union'll give them strike pay!" Well, yes, they will. A few quid per day. Not even close to a proper working days pay for driving a tube train. In some ways, driving those things must be miles more stressful than driving a bus - I know for a fact that the medical they have to pass to drive a tube train is somewhat tougher than the medical I had to pass to drive a bus.

But the non-Union general public appear to know little about the workings of the movement. The News organisations never seem to concentrate on this support mechanism: They only look for the sensationalist headlines. A phrase I've heard time and again is that the News Hounds never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Well, maybe that's true, maybe it's not: I'm not a newsman. I do know that I cannot recall ever having seen any of the good and often charitable work that unions undertake on behalf of their members and others. It's a crying shame, that.

Another thing that a shedload of folks who've never been in a union don't appear to realise is, when you are a member of a union, one of the things you agree to do is fully and completely support whatever action the majority of the voting membership decide upon. It's called democracy. If they decide no strike, then no strike. If they decide on a course of industrial action, whether it be a work to rule or a strike, then that's what you ALL do. No ifs, buts, or maybes. Solidarity of action is the key to a Unions' strength, after all.

It's why the Conservatives tried to kill off the unions powers after the Miners Strike.

They damn near succeeded too, and that WOULD, make no mistake, have been a bloody disaster for all working people across the country.

Frankly, in this Tube Strike, like all other forms of industrial action in the past, and most likely the future as well, there're no winners, and plenty of losers, in this one. Classic no-win situation, I think.

Let's hope it all gets resolved in double quick time.

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