Londoners may have has a sense of déjà vu in the run-up to last week’s General Election, as alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson attempted to get voters’ attention by saying he was considering a ban on strikes - well, rail strikes, anyway. As the Guardian told readers in November, “Conservatives pledge to ban all-out rail strikes”.
More hot air, more promises to be broken
Which meant what, exactly? The paper was back on the subject in early December: “Boris Johnson has claimed that all-out strikes on public transport will be made illegal under a new Conservative administration following major disruption on UK train routes. ‘I do think it’s absurd that critical transport mass-transit systems should be capable of being put out of actions by strikes, and other countries around the world have minimum service requirements for public transport – and that’s what I want to see,’ said Johnson”.
The Evening Standard, read by many commuters as they wend their weary way back home every weekday, also had the story. “The party's manifesto on Sunday is expected to include plans to legislate for some services to run during industrial action.The move comes ahead of 27 days of strikes during December on South Western Railway by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in the long-running dispute over guards on trains. RMT members on West Midlands Trains were on strike on Saturday over the same issue”.
And the Standard included warnings from the Trades Unions that would be affected by the proposals, not least Mick Whelan of the ASLEF: “The right to strike - to withdraw your labour - is a fundamental human right. We are not slaves. Aslef has rarely called a strike and, when we have, it has always been as a last resort and as a result of management intransigence. We are not, however, surprised that Boris Johnson and his cronies want to make it even more difficult for hard working men and women to protect their jobs, pay, terms and conditions. Johnson only acts on behalf of the boss class in Britain”.
A Central Line train. Whose driver can still take part in strike action
Bozo The Clown will need the agreement of people like Whelan, and Mick Cash of the RMT, who succeeded the late Bob Crow as the union’s General Secretary. And mention of Bob Crow may nudge Londoners into realising that they have been here before.
This from the Guardian in March 2010: “Boris Johnson said today he needs a Conservative government to push through legislation to achieve his manifesto commitment of a strike ban on the London Underground. Johnson vowed during the mayoral election campaign two years ago that he would end ‘chronic strikes’ by securing a deal with tube unions in which they would agree in principle not to go on strike in exchange for an independent arbitration in the case of a dispute on pay and conditions”.
He got his Tory-led Government. He did not achieve his goal, but then, it was all hot air and make-it-up-as-you-go-along anyway. And sure enough, four years later the same paper told readers “Tory government would ban 'wildcat strikes' on tube, says Boris Johnson … London mayor says David Cameron has given him a personal promise to take action 'on day one' if he wins next election”. More hot air. More empty promises.
So it was no surprise to see Adam Bienkov, then at Politics Co UK, talking of “Boris Johnson's broken tube strike promises in full”. We’ve seen it all before.
Londoners have trusted Bozo and been betrayed. Now it’s the whole country’s turn.
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