Friday, 7 August 2015

Could it be a case of 'three strikes and you're out' for the railunions, as they risk losing Bermondsey goodwill?

Let's be frank about this: yesterday's 24-hour Tube strike, the second this year, was selfish and stupid. Selfish because we Londoners have once again been forced to make unreasonable adjustments to work and family life, so that a handful of union firebrands can upgrade their summer holiday destination from Ramsgate to Rio. And, stupid because their actions risk losing the masses of goodwill built up steadily over a decade by the late Bob Crow, the respected anti-EU leader of the RMT union. Carry on with this stupidity and they'll damage workers' rights in Britain for good.

Bob would have known when to stop. Bob would been able to read the signs: deepest recession in history; UK average wage of £26,000; and a public sector pay freeze - Bob would have accepted Transport for London's more than generous pay and conditions deal and made a run for it to Copacabana Beach. As it is, many Londoners, including Bermondsey folk bruised by yesterday's me-first shenanigans, are sick to the back teeth of the unrealistic demands of Aslef, the RMT and their pals, who seek to feather their own nests at the expense of the rest of us. 

Annual 2% pay rise? A £2,000 bonus for working on the new Night Tube? A 36-hour working week and 43 days annual paid holiday? "Sorry, mate - that ain't enough for us! We want pay increases in line with rising house prices!" Long live the revolution...

The truth is, Bermondsey suffered yesterday. Its main transport arteries around Jamaica Road and Southwark Park Road were bumper-to-bumper with traffic, causing untold hassle and problems for thousands. Queues and waiting times in shops were painfully long, as staff left early to avoid a nightmare journey home.

And, parents were forced to leave work earlier than usual to collect their children from childcare and after-school clubs. Any thanks from the unions for any of that? You must be joking! Not even a copper coin to compensate the estimated £300million cost to the economy.

With over 50% of the public supporting the Government's new laws on strike action, it's clear that something must be done. But what?

Mayor of London Boris Johnson needs to meet the unions to repeat the deal already on the table, and refuse their demands for more cash. He should begin making firm plans to introduce automated drivers on certain lines, sending out a clear message to the unions. Strike laws must be tightened further, preventing workers in key services, such as transport, from striking at all.  And, Tube drivers should spare a thought for the unseen and unheard London bus drivers who get by on a starting salary half that of these long-suffering button pushers.

Bringing the world's greatest Underground network and Europe's cultural and financial hub to a grinding halt, is not acceptable in the 21st century. It's not British and it certainly isn't Bermondsey. One more strike and they could lose our support forever.