It is a while since Zelo Street regulars have been treated to the creative delights of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), that dubiously talented convocation of Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants who pretend that they seek better value for taxpayers, while in fact they take every opportunity to undermine Government - any Government - so they can then propose doing away with it altogether.
Not available tomorrow, sorry
Well, that’s about to change, thanks to an article in the Spectator by Jonathan Isaby, the TPA’s head man, titled “The Tube is an essential service and should be protected from strikes”. Those seeking enlightenment will be disappointed: Isaby displays the full panoply of wilful ignorance as he whimpers about “The hugely damaging effect on the capital caused by a handful of union barons with axes to grind”.
Note the totally untrue suggestion that Trades Unions operate on some kind of hereditary principle, and that their General Secretaries order industrial action, which they do not. As Isaby should know, all the Unions concerned have balloted their members, and the action they are taking is not only legal, but the result of management attempting to impose compulsory 12-hour night shifts on drivers, signallers, and station workers.
But instead of trying to form an understanding of the issues, we get “militant transport unions will shut down the Underground system at 6:30pm”. No they won’t - they will exercise their right, their personal freedom, to withdraw their labour. Isaby froths “Londoners already pay excessively high fares by any global comparison”. The fare levels are not set by Trades Unions. Ultimately they are a political decision.
There is a challenge for the head of the RMT: “How does he think people working in central London’s bars and clubs, often on minimum wage, should get home at the weekend? For many it’s currently three buses and two hours”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, Isaby might ask himself why workers have to come in from so far out of town (hint: they can’t afford to live any closer in). And two, that would be the minimum wage the TPA says SHOULD NOT EXIST.
But let me put this directly: the TPA wants there to be less Government, and is all in favour of personal freedom, and fairness. Yet it now wants more Government - in the form of intervention in this dispute - because its staff and their pals are having difficulty getting in to work tomorrow. It wants less freedom for Tube workers, by forbidding them from withdrawing their labour. Its head man couldn’t give a shit how unfair the imposition of night shifts is. Jonathan Isaby is a rank, stinking hypocrite.
Meanwhile, those who have more open and tolerant minds might find Stephen Hull’s take at the HuffPo, “Admit It - The Worst Part About the Tube Strike Is Feeling Green With Envy”, interesting, and a post by a station worker at the TUC’s Stronger Unions blog - he’s a fan of a 24 hour Tube, TPA people please note - telling why he’s taking strike action, including some of the shift patterns management is trying to impose, instructive (HERE).
Meanwhile, good to see that those who whine loudest about Government are the first to urge its involvement. Freedom for the TPA, authoritarianism for the rest.
what the far right often miss when they link "essential services" and "protection from strikes" is that if you have disgruntled and deeply unhappy workers who can't do anything about it they will eventually start to drift away to other jobs, or at least retire, and leave a job with such a reputation that no-one decent will want it. You'll end up with either major staff shortages or staff who can barely write their own names - not good for an essential service! So in the end you have to give the staff exactly what they asked for in the first place in order to get enough of the right type of workers.
But before then I'm expecting other problems from the shift patterns, which seem to be cobbled together to cope with this being a part time night service that isn't properly resourced. I can see trouble brewing for Mondays as problems cause safety critical staff to run into the 12 hour minimum rest between shifts rule. This regulation was introduced following the Clapham Junction disaster and if Boris and Dave try to undermine it the reaction will spread acros the National Rail network as well.
This is about more than just the implications of the night service.
LUL have managed to piss off just about all their 'coal-face' staff in one hit. They have revived the idea of disregarding rostering of staff to particular locations, in favour of "You'll work at a location we decide".
There is a distance/time limit, but that is no real consolation.
Add to all this a rookie management team, who must have wondered what hit them.
And, disgraceful as it is, they've got away with the whole notion that ticket offices are superfluous. Unions aside, very few commentators/pundits have consistently skewered them on that one. The numbers of affected travellers was seriously under-stated from day one. It takes some nerve to effectively tell families, tourists, occasional users etc to lump it or sod off.
Pay a cash fare on a bus as an alternative during an industrial action. Silly boy, what gave you that idea.
If nowt else, it's all consistent with the uncaring and decidedly non-communal society we are steadily creating.
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