Angry Bird is back! This time Michelle Harris is taking on the tube strike
I type amid a tube strike. The air is full with discord and everyone is pissing and moaning. The press are demonising tube drivers as money grabbing work-shy minions of Satan, sitting at home today rubbing their hands with glee because Dave from Accounting had to walk from Liverpool Street and didn’t have time to stop for his latte this morning. Poor Dave.
Hang on a minute. Think about it. The drivers are being forced to comply with decisions about their working conditions and pay because some scruffy-haired pasty-faced know-nothing (Boris) wants night tubes. It doesn’t matter to me how much they earn now, or how easy their hours have been up until now, if changes are imposed on their status quo, and their opinions on the changes are consistently ignored, they have every right to speak up and say something. But the usual propaganda’s being trotted out nonetheless.
Yes, it is disgusting that nurses and firefighters and policemen start on so little. Yes, they should be paid more. Yes, let’s all get behind them and say how shocking it is and how brilliant and selfless they are. Until they threaten a strike and say they aren’t happy, then let’s throw rocks at them, the greedy gobshites moaning on about exhaustion and poverty when there’re lives to save!
We’re a fickle nation. I’m seeing graphs this week comparing tube drivers pay and conditions to that of teachers, along with sanctimony-laden declarations about how hard teachers work and how wonderful they are. (They are, by the way.) But the papers were saying rather different when the NUT went on strike; then it was all “won’t somebody think of the children?!” and “what about childcare?” and “school is important and I want my child’s education to come first, oh, except that week mid July when we’re all off to Benidorm ‘cause it’s cheaper in term-time”.
We should all support the right to strike. It’s not a race to the bottom. It’s not acceptable to say “well my working conditions are rubbish so why shouldn’t theirs be”, we should all be united in campaigning for better working conditions and fair pay for all. Who wants to live in a UK where however bad things get, you just have to take it, no one has a voice, the powers that be trample on the workers and the workers keep their heads down and get on with it? Not me.
In fact, I might go on strike myself. My hours are too long, my pay is rubbish, and I don’t get enough breaks. I am exercising my rights. Down with this sort of thing. (Careful now)
- What do I want? An uninterrupted wee.
- When do I want it? Anytime in the next five hours would actually be fine, I’ve got pretty good at holding it.
And spare a thought for the real loser in all this: the night bus. The vomit covered, kebab scented, fight-charged vehicles of Beelzebub. Gone are the three hour 4am journeys round the arse-end of nowhere, trying not to look anyone in the eye. No more the concentrated ignoring of the couple at third-base in the back seat and the shady fella scoring drugs in the row in front. Farewell being privy to the extended incoherent drunken arguments between couples, and avoiding the puddles of piss rolling down the central aisle. RIP night bus. Three strikes, you’re out.
I seem to have lost the thread of my argument.
I am glad to see people taking a united stand against things they feel are unacceptable. And I imagine once the night tubes start running and more and more employers start pushing the boundaries of acceptable working hours as a result, more people will be searching for active union representation. The tube drivers are striking because they are being forced to work longer and antisocial hours for little extra pay; the cost to their family life is greater than money. I for one am behind them today as they stand up and basically tell Boris to poke it. So should you be.