Why Bob Crow is in no position to call a strike

Today commuters in London have woken up to chaos as Underground staff strike over proposed cuts and the closure of manned ticket offices. The strike is expected to last for 48 hours.  On 11th February, Londoners will face it all again.

It is the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) who are behind the strike action. Their leader is Bob Crow, man who earns around £145,000 a year and lives in a council house in London that is paid for by the tax payer.  He has also recently just returned from a holiday to Bermuda where he was pictured sunbathing on the beach and relaxing by a pool.

The main problem is here is not the fact that he was on holiday on the Caribbean just days before the strike (as Boris said Bob is entitled to his holiday). Instead, it is somebody in his position having the power to disrupt the lives of millions of working people in London. If he was somebody who worked hard for a living like the groups of people he represents, then maybe we could see the logic in why they are going on strike. However, Bob Crow is using this strike to score a point over his ‘political foe’ Boris Johnson.

Until yesterday, they had not spoken for years.  That was broken with an ‘armed stand-off’ on Boris’ monthly phone in on LBC. The events yesterday were quite dramatic with Bob Crow marching to City Hall demanding to speak to the Mayor and then phoning up his radio show as Bob from Woodford Green. Afterwards, he sat at City Hall for a large part of the day, waiting to see Boris. He left without seeing him.

The simple fact is that there should have been no strike action over the issue of closing ticket offices, especially not a strike of this size which would cause enormous disruption to the ‘greatest city on Earth’ (in the words of Boris). Boris was right in saying that we must use the technology we have to modernise Britain and a good way to do this is to use ticket machines. The vast majority of people will voluntarily use these machines now.

Instead, all they have to do is sit down and talk it through. It got a bit ridiculous yesterday when Boris said he would not talk to Bob for organising a strike and Bob would not talk until Boris changed his demands.  If they both keep taking this attitude, then nothing will be solved.

Bob Crow needs to have the interests of the people of London in mind when taking such action instead of just expressing the power that his union has. Today will see millions of Londoners cramming onto buses and the few remaining Tube services. Businesses have estimated it will cost the London economy around £50 million. There is still time to call of the next set of strikes.  Let’s hope Bob has a change of spirit.

Ben Callaghan

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