Conrad Landin

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As far as the unions are concerned, it’s still the same old nasty party

First of all an apology – I’ve hardly posted at all these last few weeks. With university applications and an Extended Project on George Orwell to complete, I’ve been very stretched for time.

But what better subject with which to make a return to the blogosphere than the trade unions? I know, trade unions and Tory councillors?

It seems there’s some discourse in the Belsize Park Conservative party. While newbie dep Councillor (or should that be comrade) Claire-Louise Leyland is keeping the red flag flying and saluting Marx in the councillors’ offices at the Town Hall, fellow ward councillor for Belsize and Judd Street-returnee Jonny Bucknell can’t keep his mouth shut about the tube strikes.

Jonny Bucknell – shame on you!

In a letter in the Camden New Journal, he crows about how he “decided to make a defiant gesture of travelling by Tube even though this meant going out of my way to find a station that was open”.

Anything to spoil what the majority of tube workers voted for, Jonny, I’m sure.

But this is one thing he doesn’t seem to understand. He talks throughout this whole letter about the strike as if it is a possession of Bob Crow, the union leader. Calling a strike pretty hard in modern times – and as Jonny should well know (Maggie introduced the laws, after all – if I know that and he doesn’t, he must be a lot younger than I imagined) you can’t call a strike without following strict procedure, including secret balloting of members. Despite what gets reported about Bob Crow, strikes are almost always a last resort.

He has noticed, after all, that members “lose pay”. Tube employees aren’t stupid – they simply wouldn’t do this for “Bob Crow’s self-preservation”. And it’s not just the RMT – the TSSA, who represent booking clerks, also voted for strike action.

There’s a real issue here – perhaps people won’t be made redundant in the short term but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that stations with more staff will be safer. And how on earth will he achieve his ambition of driverless trains if you can’t change safety regulations?

Tube stations, particularly in outer London, are having there service gradually wound down. If the ticket offices are open for less hours, less people will use them and therefore there’ll be more of an excuse to cut further.

Additionally, we shouldn’t have any shame in saying it’s also about protecting jobs. More jobs = less unemployment, better for the economy, more in taxes, shorter dole queues.

The other point is that Boris Johnson, from Bucknell’s very own compassionate Conservatives, promised a no strike agreement with the Tube unions. Did he deliver? I think the answer to that is obvious.

People elected to represent our communities should not be stirring up hatred against union members taking democratic action in fear of the future of their profession, but supporting negotiations – and if all else fails, sometimes strikes are the only way. I too shook hands with tube workers on strike day – the ones who were about to go on strike – to do exactly this.

The sword falls to Red Claire to sort out her ward buddy before the revolution begins!


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