The Tube Strike

I address myself directly this morning to the three million people – including many readers – who use the London Underground network; and I have no inhibitions whatever in focusing on these passengers, because the irritation they are experiencing as a result of industrial action is not only disgraceful, but an omen for the entire country as we struggle to come out of recession

If you have been kept waiting, or if your day has been wrecked, or if your colleagues and staff have been unable to make it to the office, then the first and most important thing I should say is how deeply I regret this strike and the inconvenience you are suffering. And if you are wondering why it is happening today, when the Tory party conference is taking place in Birmingham, then I hope the answer is obvious.

This is a nakedly political strike. It has nothing whatever to do with health and safety – nor have the union leaderships raised any such fears in the course of the negotiations.

We need to make some sensible and moderate changes to the ticket office arrangements on the Tube, to reflect the greatly increased use of the automatic Oyster system. We need to take account of the fact that some ticket offices are now selling fewer than 10 tickets an hour. We need to liberate staff to get out on to the platforms and concourses where they can be of most use to the travelling public. We have come up with a way of doing this that keeps a ticket office at every station that currently possesses one – and, remarkably, given the colossal budgetary pressures we face – we are able to do this with no compulsory redundancies. There will be no loss of earnings, and I cannot stress enough that all stations will remain staffed at all times.

This is the package which the RMT leadership now demands is “taken off the table” before talks can resume, while their political lackeys now pretend that I should invite Bob Crow in for beer and sandwiches in City Hall. That is absurd, outrageous and wrong. We cannot reward the bad behaviour of militants whose objectives are plainly nothing to do with the terms and conditions of their members, and everything to do with a political attack on the Coalition government and, to a lesser extent, on City Hall.

If you doubt this analysis, listen to the words of Bob Crow’s number two, Steve Hedley, who has now been arrested on suspicion of common assault following his manning of a picket line during the last strike. He says he wants to build the RMT into a “formidable regional fighting force”, and that he wants to “go on the offensive”. Or listen to the rantings of the former mayor, Ken Livingspart. When he was in office the old newt-fancier in fact proposed a programme of ticket office closures far more draconian than the ones we are currently suggesting, but he seems to have forgotten all that and indeed to have lost all contact with common sense. He has reinvented himself as a creature of the old hard Left, for whom every strike is right and all attempts to restrain public spending are a Thatcherite evil. If you want to know whose side he is on, suffice it to say his office is funded by one of the striking unions.

The tragedy is that there is a growing number of people in the Labour Party – perhaps even Ed Miliband – who believe that they can manipulate industrial unrest to wreak revenge for their electoral defeats. They have an apocalyptic vision of the next two or three years, in which the public sector unions respond to the cuts with wave after wave of debilitating strikes. They see angry shouting Steve Hedley-style pickets at every station, braziers at every street corner, and such general industrial unrest that there is a run on the pound and a broken and dejected Coalition government is obliged to sue for peace and throw its policies into reverse.

And who suffers, as they pursue this nightmarish return to the politics of the 1980s? Not the bankers and the fat cats, who are the ostensible objects of their wrath. Their victims are the ordinary workers of this country, who find they cannot get to work, who lose pay, and whose firms go under as a result of the disruption. How does it help the economy, if the chaos means the Treasury loses the tax revenue it needs not just to reduce the deficit but also to pay for investment in London transport? How the hell can we in London demand more funding from central government for new track and new signalling, when the RMT and the TSSA leadership refuse to accept these modest and greatly attenuated proposals to reform the way ticket offices work?

This strike is irresponsible politically motivated nonsense, and above all it will not succeed. Last month the strikers vowed to paralyse London – and yet 93 per cent of Oyster users made their journeys on that day, whether by bus, overground, boat – or the large parts of the Tube that were running. I am deeply grateful to the London Underground workers who helped to get 40 per cent of the network moving. I am sad for any workers who felt bullied into supporting the strike by the likes of Mr Hedley, and with less than half the union members actually participating in the strike ballot, it is high time the Coalition looked at the law again.

The Tube is a vital part of our transport infrastructure. It carries as many people as the whole of the rest of the national rail network put together. It simply cannot be right that a little over 3,000 people should be able to disrupt – or to attempt to disrupt – the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The Government should consider a law insisting on a minimum 50 per cent participation in a strike ballot; and in the meantime I hope that the union chiefs, and their political cheerleaders, will come to their senses, come to the negotiating table, and call off a strike that risks damaging the economic prospects of their own members to no good purpose whatever.

The article appears in The Daily Telegraph

20 thoughts on “The Tube Strike”

  1. This strike can only help the Conservatives. It will show what Labour is about – privileging their chums in the militant unions, while parasitising the productive workers and throwing a few crumbs of frozen pizza to the poor. Oh, and bunging the bankers of a hundred billion or so for totally effing up at their jobs.

  2. You see? You see? What have we told you? Stirring up troubles in the West for the commies that is. Oh aye, nothing worse in politics than supporting the commies while you’re living in the West. It stinks. Worse than MPs fiddling expense claims.

    Of course, all commies top to bottom steal public money but all their state-owned newspapers daren’t investigate or report them. And they don’t have any independent newspapers at all. Their crimes are only exposed when the whole regieme is brought down by the people power ( fast-rewind to the Eastern Bloc in 1988 – 1989 ).

    You might wonder: if someone living in the West loves communism and Marxism so much, why don’t they just eff-off to a communist country and stay there for good?

    Ah, not that simple. Thing is nobody forbids them to leave the West. But will the communists trust them enough to let them move in with them. Are you with me?

    You see – the Russian as a whole are well known for distrusting all foreigners. It’s in their blood. Then you have the Russian communists and other commies, all just the same, they are very suspicious of all foreigners, including their own foreign comrades. Are you with me? Ain’t they deadly?

    Well, just look at the Cambridge spies – after being exposed, they scuttled to their masters in Moscow who grudgingly let them stay, but they have them under surveillasnce 24/7 for the rest of their lives in exile in Russia.

    You see – the communists prefer them Marxism & communism loving Western maniacs to stay in their own country in the West and cause as much damage, politics & society-wise, as possible in the West, not in Russia, no, on their behalf.

    Now, back to our Marxism loving Ralph and Marion. After they hooked up together in England and got their unusual jobs, they could have eff-off back to Marion’s heaven-on-earth-communist-Poland, say, in the 1960’s or 1970’s. England would never have stopped them from leaving these shores.

    But would the Polish commies have let them move in with them over there, even they are commies lovers? But then again, maybe Ralph and Marion have not ever wished to swap their comfortable Western life style for the hardship that would be waiting for them in communist Poland thankyou very much?

    So over here, we have two bloody ” political ” refugees – a Jew and a Pole ( God help us ) who strangely love and workship communism and Marxism, joined force together and produced two little Damiens who grew up totally brain-washed by their parents to cause more troubles in the West. And this is what you are seeing today.

    Talk about biting the hands that feed you. Monkey seniors, monkey juniors them whole lot ungrateful traitors. Ed Miliband is not called Red Ed for nothing. We also have Red Ken who wants to be London Mayor again. God help us. God help us all.

    Now we hear that Brussels wants to replace current EU’s Foreign Minister ” Lady ” Cathy Ashton ( a Labour’s tool and former CND’s treasury president who presented CND at the British Communist Party’s meetings and who refused to answer if regular large funds in CND’s bank accounts had come from Russia ) with David Miliband. Again, un-elected by the public. Cathy Ashton or David Miliband? Would it make any diffence?

  3. The well-paid Crowe and his well-paid crew are striking, really for the sake of striking. They know that their only achievable objective is to cause pain and disruption to the public. And like all terrorists, they have set out to create a climate of chaotic uncertainty for the public, in the hope that they can bring down the elected government. This isn’t a workers’ struggle; this isn’t politics; this is a cheap and nasty form of terrorism inflicted on the people of this country.
    And Bob Crowe: leading from the front? I can’t even think of a word that rhymes.

  4. I’d go further and make it so that unions also had to ballot non-union workers in the same organisation before striking.

    Only 50-60% of public sector workers are in unions, so why should the unions get to decide without consulting everyone?

  5. As always Boris you say it as it is.
    I had to visit your city during the last tube strike actually the day of the Battle of Britain Service was being held.
    It took over 2 hours to get from Clapham Common to he city and it was nose to tail all the way because of the strike.
    This is the first and last time I will visit our capital.
    It was good to see the buses were running as usual .
    We cannot afford to have strikes. All that will do is fuel the fires of discontent and no one benefits from the action.

  6. Personally I do not believe that Unions are a good thing anymore, we have moved on, and so should they.

    Maybe Bob and the strikers would think twice if they were held accountable for their actions and we all delivered a bill for all the disruption that they have caused.

    In a modern world, countries and its citizens cannot be held to ransom and disrupted by small power hungry groups that manipulative the law to their advantage and cause so much damage to so many people, be it planes, trains or any vital infrastructure.

    Maybe the law should be changed regarding the right to vote for strike action! Boris suggested a minimum 50% threshold before a strike can be put to the vote. This would lead to a strange equation, as anyone against the strike would just need to abstain from any vote therefore, not voting would classify as a “No Vote” making it majority vote for action.

    In fact this may be a better option… if you vote “for action” and get over 50% call out then you go on strike. Therefore anyone that abstains from voting because they “can’t be bothered” should automatically get a “no action”

    Alternatively, should we do away with Unions all together and have a centrally government/worker funded organisation to act as an arbitrator for everyone, and create a statute to offer fair and impartial advice and resolutions to all!

    One thing that is certain is that we need something change, otherwise we are going to see unprecedented disruption to this country, its people and its businesses. We cannot afford to do nothing and accept being held to ransom.

    Change is inevitable but the golden rule is to keep it as simple as possible, don’t fight change, embrace it!

  7. If the unions want war then lets give them war.

    Put a time limit on the generous offer of no compulsory redundancies.

    Next learn from British Airways and Willie Walsh, and impose withdrawal of staff perks for all those that strike.

    Next impose a freeze on all recruitment and require unless approved

    Next suggest that to balance the books annual pay cuts will or compulsary redundancies will be needed over the next 5 years.

    Finally, publicly contract with an outside agency to supply fully trained drivers at lower costs than current employment costs.

    If RMT/TSSA are greedy enough not to deal then let them destroy themselves.

  8. Why have a vote at all?

    Boris Johnson points out that 3,000 union members have the power to prevent 3,000,000 travellers going about their lawful business. Does anyone really think that the 3,000,0000 users of the system would vote for a strike?

    An inclusive ballot, ie the public and the union, would be expensive, impractical and stupid. And the result would, of course, be a certain victory for the users of the Underground.. So why allow any strikes at all?
    The union members have a contract, in which if they do something they get something. My own, admittedly naive view, is that if the union members won’t do what they’re contracted to do, then they should be fired and someone else found to do it.
    Is there a shortage of people willing to work under the conditions offered to Bob Crowe’s union members?
    Or maybe it is too difficult to change the law. But then, what are governments for?
    I’m pretty sure that the law would be changed very quickly to prevent any other terrorists fouling up the economy of London. So why are the Government watching, yet again, and doing nothing? Are they afraid of Bob Crowe?

  9. Kaylie, you mean the Monkey clan don’t do what they preach?

    Red Ed is under investigation regarding his marital and living arrangements. The house he lives in is registered in his girlfriend’s name alone. His name is not mentioned in their son’s birth certificate. Meaning he is not related to any of them. He is only a lodger in their house.

    Financial experts say that by doing this he’s entitled to take lucrative tax perks unavailable to married partners.

    In his first leader’s speech to Labour’s conference last week, Red Ed warned that ” The gap between the rich and poor in British society harms us all “. But this is how he and his girlfriend skillfully played the property market game:

  10. People simply think workers go on strike for better conditions. That’s true. But sometimes it runs deeper than that. More likely these big strikes are orchestrated by the Russian communists through their Socialist-Marxist union leaders in Western countries. It’s just one of the ways for the Russian communists to disrupt the West. They call it their ” Silent War “.

    And this is why the communists have never allowed their workers to form any kinds of workers unions at all, simply to stop the West from employing the same method of using their workers unions to harm their countries economy-wise.

    A former KGB colonel revealed that Jack Jones was in the pay of the KGB when he was Britain’s most powerful union leader.

  11. Edna, Lenin regarded people like Jack Jones as ‘useful idiots’.
    Is it possible that the union-barons think of Ed Miliband as just another ‘useful idiot’?

  12. Some of the comments, both here and in the Daily Telegraph, suggest what amounts to the proscription of the unions.  I’m not so sure ;  and not just because of a natural disinclination to circumscribe the freedom of the individual.

    From an employer’s point of view employees’ membership of a union can be quite helpful.  There are times when an employee needs to discuss things outside the home and his circle of close friends ;  such a conversation with his employer he might embarrassing but a supportive union with conscientious representatives might be — indeed ought to be — a good resort.

    The closed shop — so much a part of British industrial life between the War and the 1980s — is roundly condemned.  From the employer’s point of view however there is something quite good about it :  it unites the workforce.  Certainly British management, bolstered by the board structure of corporations (which, unlike that in, say, Germany, typically excludes representatives of the workforce), has consistently failed to make the most of such arrangements ;  that indicates simply a failure on the part of managers.

    Do we need — in large organizations public and private such as the Underground — a closed shop run under something akin to the Australian law on elections ?  All would have to belong (management too perhaps) and to vote (in secret ballots of course) :  it would not be sufficient to leave decisions to other members.

    The first thing that would flow from such a change would be the elimination of a situation in which, say, a quarter of the workforce might bring it all out on strike.

    Beyond that :  all members of the union (militant and moderate alike), knowing they had to vote, would, one might hope, think about the matters in dispute.

    The biggest problem that besets civilian life is the lack of teamwork ;  civilians should perhaps learn from the military, which simply could not function on the basis of the way in which civilian bodies, whether parts of government or commercial, are run.


  13. Bob Crow sings (with acknowledgements to The Tubes):

    I just can’t wait to have it all now
    Just take it one thing at a time
    I want it all now
    You’ll have to learn to wait in line
    I’ll get it some way, somehow
    I want it all now
    All now

  14. The majority of unions’ members are ordinary workers who sometimes need their union’s representative to sort out their work problems on their behalf. It’s the unions’ militant top dogs what you have to watch out for.

    In the above Telegrasph’s link, Jack Jones openly admitted: ” I met Soviet officials (!) at embassies or on trips to Russia (!)on behalf of my union’s members. They might have been KGB. I didn’t know I was a target. Had I known I was a target for KGB, or CIA (?!), I wouldn’t have had anything to do with them.”

    He just dropped CIA in it to act all innocent. But why do British unions’ top dogs have to consult Russian communists or other communists on how to run British workers’ unions? Given that the communist don’t allow unions in their own countries and that their workers have to do as they’re told.

    Isn’t it strange that Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians seem to have a penchant for Russian women and Russian men? Is that a personal choice or a front? Could be 50/50 we’ll never know, and we’re not talking about Mandy here.

    Lib-Dem MP Mike Hancock employs a young Russian girl from Russia to work as his researcher (!)


    Labour Lord Truscott had been well known at Westminster for liking Russian women and the USSR, and that he wanted to have a Russian wife. Accordingly the Russians knew about this (!). So when he applied for a tourist visa, the Russian embassy tipped off Moscow in advance.

    Waiting in Moscow was Svetlana, an active member (!) of the Russian communist party, whose father was working a general in the Red Army. At the time, all tourism behind the iron curtain was run by the state owed-run INTOURIST who only employed “certain” people to work for them as interpreters, tour guides, receptionists, waiters, cleaners etc. (!)

    And guess who would be waiting to greet Truscott at the Moscow airport? Our Svetlana, of course, assigned by INTOURIST to work as Truscott’s personal tour guide (!). And the rest is history.

    But now, Svetlana’s brother insisted: ” My sister was not Trescott’s personal tour guide. She never worked for INTOURIST. Her English was not that good.” Yes, sir.

    Even now, Lady Truscott openly declared to the British press: ” Your Labour Party is very popular in Russia!”


    The communists prefer that their sleepers enter the West openly and legally i.e by marriage or work, to make themselves less noticeable. Once they gain new Western citizenship, they are free to roam all over the world.

    i.e Sleepers to enter the West legally using real passports issued by EU’s new members who are formerly Soviet slave republics or by the Eastern bloc. Then try to gain new Western citizenship.

    i.e Sleepers to marry any Western men to quickly gain new Western citizenship.

    They need new Western citizenship in order to evolve themselves to make them less Russian, less noticeable before they are told to move to a bigger country ( bigger target ). And this is what Anna ” Chapman ” and her sleepers spy ring did. Read more, Google: ANNA CHAPMAN

  15. Boris must occasionally cringe at the comments of some of his supporters. “Commies”? They’re not communists, you fools. They’re just running a protection racket. Know your enemy.

  16. Dear Boris,

    Privatise the whole London Underground and be done with it, in fact sell it off to the highest bidder. We can no longer afford to be held to ransom every time the militants feel like rocking the boat to gain a political brownie point.

  17. Boris – we’re now a month on from when you wrote this and apparently no further forward. Isn’t it time you met the Crow dinosaur head on? Get the pain over with and follow Ronald Reagan’s example of a small problem he Had with ATC on the early ’80’s – sack the f*******.

    Get this city a no strike deal and stop this nonsense once and for all.

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