Tube strikes are unfortunately a fairly regular fact of life in London, and so far I’ve been unaware of the reasons the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers) feels strike action is necessary. So with the recent announcement of more strikes, I decided to educate myself this time around so I could either support the RMT and accept the inconvenience, happier in the knowledge that it’s for a good cause, or support TFL and just be angry.
Unfortunately, I’m just angry.
I didn’t have to read very much – the RMT press statement is full of hyperbole, rhetoric and emotional statements with little in the way of evidence or fact. When contrasted against a reasonable, fair and down-right sensible letter from TFL… there’s no longer any question in my mind of who I should support.
Exhibit A: Mike Brown’s “Fairness to staff” letter
Exhibit B: Geoff Martin’s press release announcing the strikes
The language in Mike’s letter is reasoned, logical, fair, and uses almost no hyperbole or emotional language. Not only that, it makes real commitments to its staff, and I think any reasonable person must accept that its plans for modernisation are improvements for everyone. Except perhaps the poor sod that now has to be out in the ticket hall instead of sitting on their arse behind a glass window.
Compare this from the RMT (all emphasis mine):
[the talks] were wrecked by a combination of management intransigence and the introduction of additional measures that actually worsened the original toxic package.
[the planned cuts] would destroy the safety regime on the tube network and which would wreck the quality of service to passengers at a time of surging tube demand.
About the most hyperbolic statement I could find from Mike Brown referred to TFL’s commitment to “radically” improve customer service.
Also, Mike actually gives examples!
During intensive talks spanning eight weeks and over 40 meetings, LU has changed some of its proposals to reﬂect the feedback of staff and unions.
For example, all smaller, local stations will now be staffed by a Customer Service Supervisor at all times and no supervisors need ‘reapply for their jobs’.
To be sure, this is not the complete picture. Without being a fly on the wall in the negotiations, none of us can really know the full story. It may be that RMT are totally incompetent at PR and TFL have the best spin doctor in the business. But based on what I’ve seen, I’m more than happy to take a position.