Coffee House

Sorry RMT, there’s no proof the public support the Tube strikes

5 February 2014

8:19 AM

5 February 2014

8:19 AM

Statistics can be used to prove anything, a wise man (Homer Simpson) once said. It looks like the RMT union are trying to do just that, with a new poll they’ve published with the claim the public supports the Tube strikes. According to a press release entitled ‘Poll shows strike action against cuts justified and continued opposition to ticket office closures’:

‘The survey carried out by the respected polling organisation Survation found that almost two thirds (65%) of tube users felt that lawful industrial action as a last resort was justified, with only 29% not sharing that view. A similar number (66%) were concerned at the Mayor’s closure plans.’

Half of that may be true, but the polling doesn’t back up the notion that the public approve of the action. The first relevant question (skipping over the first two on the frequency of Underground use) in the polling is generally about TfL’s plans for modernising the Tube:

‘Q3. To what extent would you or would you not be concerned if the tube stations on your journey had both an overall reduction in station staff and no longer had manned ticket offices’


Being concerned and supporting this strike are two different things. The high level of those either quite or very concerned — 66 per cent — is not surprising. Many Londoners will be ‘concerned’ at what the changes will do to the network but that doesn’t mean they support the RMT. Then in an attempt to make this a personal battle with the Mayor of London:

‘Q4. Do you think that the Mayor of London should speak directly with trade unions without preconditions if that meant strike action on the tube could be prevented?’

This falls into the ‘would you like a pony’ category — people will answer yes because they’d be silly not to. 87 per cent are in favour of unions speaking to Boris directly, but as the Mayor said yesterday, it would be appropriate for him to dive in when a strike is ongoing — especially when the talks are being held through the Acas mediating service. Finally, the polling includes another open-ended question not tied specifically to this strike:

‘Q5. Do you think that lawful industrial action as a last resort is justified in these circumstances?’

All these questions together put together tell RMT’s side of the Tube strike. There’s no question on whether people support TfL’s changes and some of the benefits they may bring, for example. It’s unlikely the London commuters trying to battle their way into work this morning will agree with the RMT’s spin machine.

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Show comments
  • serialluncher


    Would you back ticket office closures if it meant Bob Crow didn’t have you over a barrel?

  • Mynydd

    I would point out that Mr Bob Crow is not a member of the Labour party, and the RMT union is not affiliated to the Labour party. This means that Mr Miliband is not responsible for the actions of Mr Crow and the RMT union. The other side of the coin being, Mr Crow and the RMT Union cannot be Mr Miliband’s paymaster.

    • HJ777

      Is it not the case that the RMT made donations to various local Labour Party organisations prior to the last election?

    • serialluncher

      Except the RMT funds Labour in London.

  • PositionDial

    Thanks, we’ve shared this on PositionDial

  • Mooklips

    RMT are incredible idiots. If they wanted the public on their side why didn’t they do the opposite of a strike and simply open the ticket barriers to allow free travel? If they’re angry at GLA then they’v got to punish GLA without punishing passengers. Right now, they are behaving like childish scum and as such I would actually WELCOME job losses and automated ticket machines because MACHINES DON’T STRIKE!

  • HJ777

    I love these privately commissioned polls.

    They are commissioned for one reason only – to support the case of those who commission them. Because polling organisations want the business, they will ask whatever skewed questions the organisation that is paying for them wants them to ask.

    And in the unlikely event that the poll comes back with the ‘wrong’ answers then, of course, the organisation that paid for the poll can simply instruct the pollsters to keep the findings (and even the fact that they carried out the poll) quiet.

  • Tom M

    What continually amazes me about these unions is that they seek, without the slightest sign of embarassment, to challenge the management on management decisions. To put the RMT action in prespective imagine a union telling the hypothetical widget manaufacturer what his factory should make and how many staff he should employ to do it.

  • Adam

    I hardly noticed the strike during my morning commute. I think many more union members have turned up for work than Bob and his cronies would like which only serves to demonstrate what a dinosaur he is!

    It’s great to see Thatchers Britain alive & well – UP THE SCABS!

  • grammarschoolman

    Evidently it’s the £52K for each of those tube drivers that keeps the fares so high. And now they can’t even be arsed to drive the trains. What a bunch of chav wankers.

    • James Strong

      I’m not supporting this strike but no,what you say is not evident at all. There are lots of costs of running the tube system that have to be refelected in fares.

      • grammarschoolman

        Nonsense. They should pay these people a wage that reflects their abilities and qualifications. Fourpence a year should do it. Then the rest of us can look forward to properly priced travel.

  • DavidL

    With every strike, the tube workers strengthen the case for (and bring forward the advent of) driverless trains and automation in stations. And when the day of their demise dawns, whatever the polls now say, they’ll get about as much public sympathy and support as the Fleet Street print workers did.

  • Fact Finder

    As has been pointed out by London Transport, there will be no compulsory redundancies, so the strikers don’t even have that excuse.

  • Gareth Milner

    I noticed that Miliband spoke on the news last night that he didnt agree with the strikes, is that code for “we support unions only if they give us money”?

  • mathias broucek

    Spot the difference competition:

    Normal workplace: management proposes changes, workforce doesn’t like the changes so argues against them, management prevails, workforce grumbles and gets back to work

    TFL: management proposes changes, workforce doesn’t like the changes, workforce goes on strike inconveniencing millions

  • toco10

    Not a word of apology or sympathy from Red Ed for his trades union paymasters.Typical degenerate Labour and its total failure to understand economics and create wealth to pay for essential services such as the NHS,Education and Welfare for those who deserve it.The man who stabbed his brother in the back is an utter disgrace.

    • James Strong

      Here we go again. Ed Miliband did not stab his brother in the back; he stood against him in an elaction and won within the rules.
      David Miliband had no more entitlement to the leadership of the Labour Party than any of the other candidates.

      • toco10

        Red Ed won because of his trades union masters and their control of the rules.As far as stabbing his brother in the back is concerned he is most certainly guilty in terms of fair play which he and the comrades simply ignore.Take a look at Falkirk, unless of course, you seek to defend the indefensible!

        • James Strong

          The Falkirk case and the election that Miliband E won are not the same, and do not establish the back-stabbing.
          You are right that Miliband E won because of union votes, but I am right that the election was within the rules. You’ve got no evidence of fraud, vote-rigging, ballot-stuffing or anything at all in breach of the rules in the leadership election.
          You again assert your position but you do not provide any evidence or details.
          Miliband D was not an incumbent, so Miliband E was not showing disloyalty to the duly chosen leader.
          Unless you can establish something like Miliband E promising to support his brother when talking to him face-to-face but plotting behind his back to run against him then you are allowing your wish that Miliband E wasn’t leader to provoke you into a claim that you haven’t, yet, been able to justify.

          • toco10

            You should read my post again!I am not suggesting there was anything wrong with the leadership election but pointing out the trades unions controlled the basis upon which it was fought through its funding of the Labour Party and given what happened with Falkirk where concerns have been expressed both in terms of conduct and the failure by Labour to publish its report can we realistically be comfortable.As for Red Ed becoming leader I am delighted but he effectively stabbed his brother in the back and prevented a far better candidate from becoming leader.

            • Mynydd

              At the last leadership election Unions had 1 /3 of the votes, MP/MEPs had 1 /3 of the votes, party members had 1 / 3 of the votes. There were run offs until one had more than 50%. This means that Mr Miliband could not win on Union votes alone he needed votes form the other two section.

      • dmitri the impostor

        There *you* go again, sloppily.

        ‘I didn’t take this decision lightly. I knew it would have an impact on my family and on him.’

        – Ed Miliband, Desert Island Discs

        ‘Mr Miliband said that he had “not really” spoken to his brother … about standing for the leadership before he decided to enter the race.’

        – Daily Telegraph, 24 Nov 2013

        Entitlements and Queensberry rules are neither here nor there.

        • James Strong

          So what?
          David standing had an impact on Ed and his family.
          Why should Ed have spoken to his brother about standing for the leadership? He was a rival candidate. Surely, surely you don’t think he should have sought permission or approval. Or do you?
          Do you think Ed Balls and Diane Abbott (I think she was a cadidate, wasn’t she?) discussed their candidacies with their rivals?
          Do you think Cameron and Davis discussed with each other whether or not they should stand for the leadership?
          Or Clegg and Huhne?

          • dmitri the impostor

            Goalposts back where they were, please. Your original assertion was ‘Ed Miliband did not stab his brother in the back’. Proving a negative isn’t easy at the best of times but you have your work cut out with this one.

            Ed even went so far as to dissuade his brother from challenging Brown before the 2010 election in order to boost his own chances of success in the aftermath. Source: ‘Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader’ by James Macintyre and Mehdi Hasan (2012).

            You can question the veracity of the anecdote until you’re blue in the face, although why they should have made it up is far from obvious. The literature on the status of the fraternal relationship before and after the leadership contest is so copious and so one-directional as not to be worth quoting further. You can attribute the fall out to whatever you like. You can attribute it to the Transit of Venus, an inflatable plastic banana or Nick Clegg. I attribute it to one stabbing the other in the back. Call me old-fashioned.

  • Rossspeak

    Why don’t you ask the millions of both public and private sector workers in “mundane” jobs earning around £16,000 pa how much sympathy they have for the “poor, exploited” Tube Train Drivers on a meagre £52,000 pa.
    Bob Crow is a dinosaur – like Arthur Scargill he thinks one of the “primary roles” of his Members is to act as “class warriors against the capitalist masters”.
    He is doing his Members a grave disservice.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Good point. Crow’s predecessors in the docks, coal, print, steel, shipbuilding and British Leyland etc all thought the same and believed they could hold the rest of us to ransom. Where are they and more importantly, the jobs they were supposed to protect, now?

      • Rossspeak

        I would add to your comments by putting the other side of the coin – when and where Management and Unions can be constructive,progressive and concerned for their mutual futures much can be achieved. We are now producing more cars in the UK than ever before – from new factories, run by enlightened Management co-operating with a highly skilled and motivated workforce.Take the “dinosaur” politics out and we can all move forward.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit


    • Graeme S

      Amazing these train drivers are class warriors on very middle class salaries ..

      • In2minds

        Amazing, why? Class warrior Tony Blair earns even more!

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Surely you mean ‘First’ class warrior Tony Blair. The very thought that he might be considered a business or economy class warrior would appal him.

      • UndergroundGoddamnMonsters

        This really isn’t about the train drivers, but replacing ticket office staff with machines. I don’t want the stations run by machines. What happens to all the confused tourists? What about late at night when people are vulnerable? What if I’ve got a problem that can’t be solved by a machine (e.g., broken oyster card, bipped in at the wrong entrance)? 950 jobs is a massive cut. I support both their reason for striking and their right to strike. Up the humans!

        • Ollie Ford

          Broken Oyster – you buy a day/week travelcard (depending on your frequency of travel), order a replacement online and claim a refund. Sometimes you’ll be told to do this right now anyway (the other half the time they’ll just let you through, depends on the staff).

          “Bipped in at the wrong entrance” this is easily resolved (sometimes automatically) retrospectively online today.

          Further – closing ticket offices is not the same as having “stations run by machines”. As I understand it, there would still be a ‘skeleton crew’ around to help tourists etc. – you just would have to buy a ticket from a machine.

          Think Tesco Metro – self checkout with one/two member(s) of staff to assist. Much quicker, much cheaper.

  • kyalami

    Just how much training is needed to be a Tube train driver on £50k a year?

    • realfish

      None whatsoever on the world’s driverless, automatic transit systems

      • Selohesra

        And that is the real reason for the strike – political agitators like Crow realise they will lose one of their key weapons when driverless trains are introduced and they will become an irrelevance. They cannot face the prospect of not being able to grab headlines with a new strike each year.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Agreed and like his predecessors in coal, steel, shipbuilding, print etc etc he will soon be a mere footnote in history.

        • jonseer

          Yes but Bob Crow will not let his drivers test driver-less trains. Err…. ?

  • In2minds

    Scoundrels like the RMT always claim the public support them, it’s the same with
    the proposers of HS2!

  • Sue Posi-Tory

    I am surprised that a respectable polling organization has put its name to this poll; Q2 is of the ‘do you beat your wife?’ variety. I shall take their voting intention polls with a pinch of salt.

  • sir_graphus

    During the last strike an email circulated showing Tube driver job spec, salary, pension, holiday etc. It looked pretty bloody good to me. Yet here they are on strike again.

    • Andy

      Because that stupid fat oaf Bob Crow is the new ‘Red Robbo’. We need to take on all these unions in the public sector and break them.