A new year in our sprawling, over-populated Old Smoke brings fresh days of small businesses, freelancers and other innocent bystanders losing days of income; months-in-the-planning school balls, saved-up-for pre-bought theatre tickets and the last chance to visit a dying relative or close friend ruined, tarnished or made impossible – unless of course you’re employed by Coutts.
And in the oh-so-cheery months post-Christmas, the joy of having to prise yourself out of ya pit even earlier than usual to rugby-tackle your way onto a bus, play sardines for the duration of your journey and arrive at work stressed, your regalia stuck to your person as if you’d just attempted all the positions in the Kamasutra, and having to disinfect some stranger’s armpit from off of ya boat-race due to London Underground (LU) striking yet again.
God bless RMT (The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers), Aslef (The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) and Unite The Union – the three unions that represent LU employees, and the instigators of the 26th January, 15th February and 17th strikes. You’re doing a sterling job chaps.
Why are LU striking again? For the same reason as last year – pay, and night tubes.
According to the TFL website, undated 11th January: LU is creating 700 new jobs to run the night tube service – offering total protection of work-life balance – and over 6,000 people have applied for the new roles. Thus the current Thomas-the-tube-engine staff won’t be obliged to work nights.
What actually crosses the palms of our slave-esque, light-in-the-purse-department underground staff each year: Tube drivers £49,673, plus 43 holibob days. A customer service assistant £30,000, and a station supervisor £50,000; both get 52 vacatiarno days. Tidy.
The national minimum wage is £6.70 per hour – an average 40-hour week would bring home around £13,500 a year.
A newly-qualified teacher in England and Wales: annual salary£22,244, or £27,819 if based in the Big Smoke.
Starting yearly take-home for fully-qualified nurses is £21,692. London-dwelling Florence Nightingales attract a high-cost-area supplement that can bump up their salary by as much as 20 per cent: £26,304.
Direct from TFL, LU’s four-year pay offer: in year one an average rise of two per cent; years two and three would remain at RPI (retail price index) or rise by one per cent, whichever is greater; year four would be RPI plus a 0.25 per cent rise. Plus, a £500 bonus is up for grabs for all night-crawlers.
BBC News reported: The union’s London district organiser, Finn Brennan, said:
“We genuinely regret the inconvenience that will be caused but the behaviour of London Underground’s senior management team have left us with no other choice.”
Really, Finn? You feel you have the right to disrupt, cause loss of earning and make eight million people’s life hell because you feel LU management didn’t behave in the way you wanted? Just sayin.
Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer, responded:
“The unions’ position is absurd and detached from the real world.” I think we can all agree with that, Mr Griffiths.
So what else is the union’s beef?
The RMT press office stated:
It should be noted that Night Tube Operation will impact on all of our lines and therefore some of our staff will be required to work alternative rosters to enable the business to maintain the infrastructure.”
A roster jig around – really?
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Our Tube Lines members have been offered the same deal on pay and Night Tube as their London Underground colleagues and our reps have clearly rejected it as wholly unsatisfactory.”
Poetic – so you’re not chuffed with the four-year pay plan?
According to The Guardian, January 2011: 590 to 32 National Grid (NG) staff voted for industrial action over pay, and wanted to strike in protest against below-inflation wages – they were supported by Unite and Unison and two other unions. The strikes didn’t happen and they found a resolution. We don’t hear the word ‘strike’ whenever rich-tea has been mistakenly bought instead of hobnobs by NG employees.
The gas, electricity and water companies don’t annually threaten, or stop providing us with said utility when disputing pay, shift and employment issues. Transport in London is as essential as the three mentioned above.
The Gay UK contacted a West-London-based District Line tube driver for his opinion on the strikes:
“I’m not a lot of help I’m afraid! Being on the District Line means that we are not affected by the night-time work proposals and as such I’ve stayed clear of the debate. As an Aslef member I’ll strike if the union calls for it, but I don’t get involved actively.”
Not affected, doesn’t get involved, but will still strike.
Facts: London would be a better city with 24-hour tubes. LU wages aren’t on a par with banker bank balances, but they ain’t bad. LU are employing more staff so they can implement the night tubes with them, thus not forcing current staff to work nights.
No-one’s work life is perfect; most would say they weren’t happy with their pay, having the rota played with, or changes within the company that might affect them; but the majority still go to work and get on with it – or find alternative employment.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.