Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Underground Strikes Back

Today Londoners witnessed a 24 hour walk out by Tube staff over TfL introducing all-night services, arguing that it will make the hours worked more unsociable, despite TfL recruiting an extra 137 drivers so that the amount of hours does not change massively, only occasionally when those hours are. It has also offered a £2,000 "transitional bonus" for the drivers affected, but the unions argue that this will not result in a permanent pay increase for those having to do overnight shifts.

The main point of contention, and the reason why so many people feel the strike was unnecessary, is if this is too much to ask. A driver's starting salary is £49,673, according to Transport for London, and with this they typically work a 36-hour week and get 43 days of leave every year. Compare this with a teacher's average salary - £34,600 for a full-time teacher - as well as average working time for a secondary school teacher being 63.3 hours, you can see that the unions may be asking slightly too much.

Perhaps the powers that be should assert that shaping the future of a country is more important than shipping tourists from Heathrow to the west end. It's not as if the train unions are helping themselves; everyone has the right to strike if they don't agree with their pay and working conditions, but if you do it constantly, it loses its ability to enact change. Rather than being an extreme occurrence that forces politicians and companies to act, it becomes something that only creates mild annoyance and vigorous tutting.

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