Coffee House

Tube strike shows how Bob Crow is losing his power

4 February 2014

4:49 PM

4 February 2014

4:49 PM

Just over two years ago, London Tube drivers negotiated a package that took their pay to £52,000 – around £10,000 more than the average Londoner. And yet tonight these drivers, along with other Underground staff, will go on strike – over a planned overhaul of how stations operate.

But will it be much of a strike? Only 30 per cent of RMT members actually backed Bob Crow’s plan to strike (60 per cent abstained) and Boris Johnson is doing a pretty good job of keeping the show on the road (or in the tunnel). Of London Underground’s 12 underground lines, 10 will be running. The trains will be less frequent, of course, perhaps five to ten minutes apart. But in general, Comrade Crow’s attempt to close the network down have failed. This is what the Tube will look like during the strike: Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 16.48.33

How are so many lines staying open? The RMT represents around a third of the Tube drivers, while the ASLEF union, which isn’t striking, represent the other two thirds. Transport for London are unsure of how many staff will turn up, but judging by the low numbers who voted for this strike, they are bullish about keeping the Tube running. Volunteers are also helping keep some stations open.

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There is a danger for Comrade Bob that these striking tactics are becoming irrelevant. The Pathé newsreel above from a 1962 strike shows that industrial action back then would have closed the whole network. As Boris Johnson put to the RMT leader on his radio show this morning, Bob is more interested in flexing muscles and making a public point instead of doing what is best for Londoners and most of his members — the RMT ballot had a 40 per cent turnout:

‘’This is really about muscle-flexing and power. The RMT know they have absolutely no chance of stopping this. It is inevitable. But what they need to do is to show to their members, and their future possible members, that London Underground can’t make changes without this kind of industrial action.

‘I can’t sit down and negotiate with you, let alone on air, when you are holding a gun to Londoners’ heads and threatening disruption to the greatest city on earth.’


Given all the fuss, the proposals themselves are rather tame. 750 ticket office jobs are to be made redundant, but TfL stresses there will be a job for everyone who is willing to be flexible. There are no plans for any compulsory redundancies. Boris said today that a thousand people have showed interest in taking voluntary redundancy whilst TfL said they’ve had 450 formal applications so far. In their own words, ‘there shouldn’t be any problems’, were it not for the bolshy unions.

The fact that TfL isn’t asking anyone to leave, simply to be flexible, is what makes this strike so baffling. By resisting such calls, the unions are ultimately damaging the workers they are paid to represent. Trade unions who work with employers, such as Unite at the Ellesmere Port car plant, are more likely to save their workforces through the very flexibility Crow is refusing to contemplate. So if you’re not even causing that much chaos, or helping your members in the long-term, what’s the point, Bob?

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

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Show comments
  • Doggie Roussel

    Boris, when all of this is over, perhaps you could arrange for pictures of the bronzed & bloated Crow, during his Caribbean jaunt with his floozy, while the strike was imminent, to be displayed on all the escalators on the London underground.

    There is a great pic of him looking like a beached whale, along with another of the odious oaf disco dancing with his latest scrublet.

    • paul oxley

      Whereas Johnson I suppose looked like an Adonis
      on his far far far more expensive holiday from his
      unelected position (seeing as the media won him the
      Mayorship with the most vicious campaign of lies ever
      seen in a Uk election)

      Shame on all you scab supporters and Union bashers.None
      of you would have any standard of living but for the
      Trade Unions being created.You are all the posh
      boys “useful idiots” blaming the people on your side
      rather than the rich scum who laugh at you from above

      • valerie

        you sound like one of mine

  • Gerrard Moloney

    I’m a London Bus driver, has anybody told Bob Crow the Emperor’s new clothes fairy tail ? The TFL gravy train (sorry) has had it’s day.

    • paul oxley

      If you really are a bus driver then even more
      shame on you.You should be 100% behind Bob
      and all the strikers

      Its sickening to read stupid ignorant comments
      like the ones above..Educate yourself man and
      get a bloody backbone

    • valerie

      i was a bus driver when we had a decent wage what is wrong with that

  • paul oxley

    Bob is a legend and the scenes of passengers
    waiting in huge queues for buses today show that
    Unions can still bring the country to its knees
    and rightfully so

    If only all other trade unions simply ignored the
    anti strike laws and called a General Strike unlike
    in 1926 this weak coalition unelected Government
    would be forced to capitulate in weeks

    Well done Bob and your members for showing all
    except clueless Spec bloggers just how powerful
    democratic trade unions still are

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      This is so daft I have been forced to conclude that it is a parody.

      • paul oxley

        Bob Crow makes one proud to be British

        A true patriot in the finest sense

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          As a satirist you are not exactly, Evelyn Waugh, Huxley etc etc but that was very funny. Bravo. Careful though, some people have less subtle minds and might think you are merely an idiot.

          • paul oxley

            No satire.The great principled Jeremy Corbyn Mp
            is defending this totally justified strike as I speak

            Driverless trains are a risk to all passengers particularly
            disabled, vulnerable and women passengers but you
            carry on bowing to your betters while other people
            stand and fight Mr Chuzzletwit.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Oh I see, you really are an idiot.

              • MirthaTidville

                Yes he gave all away with the mention of Democratic Trade Unions, you know like the one in Falkirk..But I still think its Telemacus….

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Possibly but Telemachus is a very special, dare I say, unique brand of idiot.

            • valerie

              he sounds like a right arsewipe this mr chuzzlewit

        • Dougie

          Given his 6-figure salary, shouldn’t he give up his council house so that a needy family can get off the housing list? That would really be a patriotic act.

          • valerie

            would you

        • valerie

          just wants what is best for his members unlike this tory party

        • valerie

          my hero

    • La Fold

      To its knees? Away and have a lie down in a dark room my old china.
      Outside of central london it hasnt had made a blinking bit of difference to anyone today. I even got to work early.

      • valerie

        good for you.you arsole

        • La Fold

          Oooh hark at her! Hand bags at dawn eh?

    • Doggie Roussel

      Subtle P…-take !

    • valerie

      if only more people in england would join a union

  • Chris Hobson

    Dubai has driverless trains they are greatly needed as it would reduce costs greatly and prices for travellers.

    • paul oxley

      So would rail nationalisation.Do you support that?

      • La Fold

        How so? It means the tax payer would end up subsidising it. That might mean you pay less at the ticket office but more in tax.

  • Michael Rondy

    Good on them I say. Don’t believe the ticket offices should be closing and believe Boris could have done a lot more to stop this strike. He pledged to keep all ticket offices open a few years ago – the man is a complete moron.

    • valerie

      you are so right

  • Rossspeak

    Bob Crow is a dinosaur and doing his Members a great disservice – like Arthur Scargill he thinks one of his Members “prime functions” is to act as “class warriors” against the exploitative Management.
    Tell that to an average worker in retail/leisure on around £16,000 pa – I bet they wouldn’t mind being “exploited” for £58,000 pa.
    Not much public sympathy there I suspect!!

    • valerie

      they both want what is best for the workers of this country not the greedy bosses

  • Daniel Maris

    A. Free trade unions and the right to go on strike have always been part of a free society – as trade unionists battling Communist regimes in Poland and trade unionists battling military dictators in S. Korea have shown.

    B. Bob Crow cannot put off the march of technology for ever. Driverless trains are obviously going to come in.

    • Ron Todd

      We are already a democracy not a perfect democracy but a democracy none the less. Unions should concentrate on looking after their members not trying to manipulate politics.

  • Ron Todd

    Saw part of the politics show on BBC2 managed to have a talk on why did Boris not have a meeting with Bob Crow without mentioning the likely answer is because Bob Crow is sunning himself on a tropical beach.

    • valerie

      i dont think so he looks after his people unlike the tories

      • La Fold

        Mushrooms really are mushrooms where you are from eh?

        • valerie

          what does it matter

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    Bob Crow has had his day – society today simply will not put up with this Militant Union b*ll*cks any more.
    Meanwhile, about these Driverless Trains…

    • valerie

      why are tories afraid of unions is it because workers will get real wages and not the pittance the working classes are getting

      • Curnonsky

        52K a pittance? Are you employed by the BBC?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        On the basis that £52,000 is a pittance, kindly advise what you regard to be a reasonable annual salary.

        • valerie

          proberly what yuo would like

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            I am guessing that should read ‘probably’. You socialists, Bob Crow is a perfect example, share the same common traits. You are sanctimonious, hypocritical, hateful and thick

  • toco10

    This is very much Red Ed’s trades union masters showing utter contempt for ordinary hard working people who only wish to do an honest day’s work and help the country get out of the financial mess Labour always leaves behind.Just look at Labour,Falkirk and the Unite union and their desire to conceal what really went on in Labour’s Kremlin.

    • david trant

      Bob Crow is not now and has never been a member of the Labour Party, in 2004 he fell out with Labour over giving financial support to the Scottish Socialist Party and RMT disaffiliated, he doesn’t have a good word to say about the Labour Party he even evicted Prescott from his RMT flat. However this will cheer U up he is a staunch opponent of EU membership and a leading light in the No2EU campaign.

      • Andy

        Matters not. They all p*ss in the same pot.

        • david trant

          bit like the Pope and Ian Paisley, them being Christians y’mean, or Cameron and Berlusconi, them both being Conservatives?

          • realfish

            …or a bit like the People’s Socialist Liberation Front, at war with the Socialist Front for the Liberation of People

            • Andy

              Or the Labour Party and the Nazis.

      • Mynydd

        Please stop writing facts the extreme right wing children will be upset. Also the new leader of the conservative party Mr Crosby wont like you.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          For the general information of other readers, “extreme right” is defined as: anybody who does not vote Labour.

    • valerie

      he is not red ed he is trying to offload the unions.you must be a worker earning a good wage,labour did not leave this country in a mess bankers did and they are still thieves falkirk was found not guilty,why are people so afraid of unions they can do only good for working people on low wages

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        No he is trying to conjure up a ‘smoke and mirrors’ formula which gives that appearance while leaving Labour’s primary source of funding in place. The Labour Party is a party of semantics and positively recoils from practical solutions. That is because 99% of practical solutions are contrary to the socialist creed. Hence they work day and night trying to come up with a form of words which will magically solve problems of productivity, welfare, pay etc etc. For proof, just compare the massive amount of legislation with what was actually achieved between 1997 and 2010.

      • La Fold

        It was the Labourgovernment who told the banks to over leverage (end of tory boom and bust anyone?), it was the Labour government who sold off the gold stocks at rock bottom prices, it was a Labour government who bailed the banks out with tax payers money. As for your last statement why do you think Unions always campaign for a minimum wage? Its not to ensure a minimum wage for workers, its to ensure that its not beneficial to employ people who may be able to undercut their members. It essentially fixes the market. Minimum wages price people, usually the lowest skilled and the least payed, out of the labour market.

    • sarah_13

      The likes of Crowe don’t have a point. They are the dense immovable forces we find in many work places, haven’t the intelligence or flexibility to adapt, so they get lots of other immovable forces to join with them, as with all stupid people they can’t raise their intelligence levels so they drag everyone down with them. Like children this sort of behaviour should be dealt with early, bob’s behaviour is pathological and has to be marginalised, it’s the only way to deal with it, appeasement just delays the inevitable confrontation.

  • Andy

    Time we destroyed some of these Marxist Unions. They no longer work for the interests of their members. Having dealt with scum like Crow that day can’t come soon enough.

    • Mynydd

      Time we destroyed some of these Business Unions. They no longer work for the interests of their shareholders.

      • La Fold

        Simple then, if a business isnt looking out for me as the shareholder ill sell my shares and invest the money in a business that will or go on a 3 day bender which would fear ollie reed. You see thats the beauty of choice.

        • valerie

          sounds like you look after yourself

          • La Fold

            Is that your argument? I was merely illustrating a point of the ability of choice for shareholders in response to the glib and childish statement about “Business unions”. And in response to your snide dig, ive stated here before im actually tee total, but thanks for the judging ondescension though.

      • valerie

        we dont work for shareholders

    • valerie

      it is this government that is not working for most of the people who pay his wages

      • Andy

        Oh sod off to the tax dodging Fascist Guardian where you belong. Yet another Fascist Labour troll.

        • Flintshire Ian

          Mirror Moron more likely?

          • valerie

            at least i dont read the sun do you

        • valerie

          i dont think it is me who is the tax dodger i dont earn enough

        • valerie

          and you are

        • valerie

          and you sound a fruustrated old man

    • valerie

      you sound like a tory

      • Andy

        You sound like a Fascist. Oh you are a Fascist.

  • albertcooper

    Bob Crow very reminiscent of Peter Sellers Mr Kite in “Im alright Jack” The time is almost up for the Bob Crows of this country who like Kruschov can only say “No”

    • GnosticBrian

      Nikita Sergeyevich could do a great deal more than say “no” – for example he was in charge of the construction of the Moscow Underground and stopping the soldiers in Stalingrad “s******g their pants”.

    • valerie

      we need more good union people to take that smirk off scamerons face

  • HookesLaw

    The wages paid to tube drivers will price them out of a job in the end.

    • Peter L

      Hopefully technology will do the job first.

      Strikes (and their drivers) could be eliminated pretty
      quickly by introducing driverless trains. These already operate perfectly safely – Paris’s Ligne 14 was fully automated when I lived there 15 years ago.

      Yes, the signalling is expensive, but so is the average
      bolshie Tube driver, at £50k and the best hours, holidays and pension package you’ll find outside the House of Commons.

      These pampered fools can afford a day off. Hundreds of thousands of London’s poorest, on low pay or zero hours contracts, will lose a day’s pay they can ill afford.

      Come on Boris, just announce plans for driverless trains on one
      Tube line – give ‘em something to think about!

      • disqus_rBU6PVVhjV

        Driverless trains?

        With mindless internet posters already in evidence they can’t be far behind, can they, fella?

        • Andy

          Yes you find they are quite common at airports etc.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            ….and the DLR in London itself.

        • realfish

          Not far off…like Singapore MRT’s Circle Line or their North-east line.

          Sorry – I forgot, Lefties don’t like the UK Government using Singapore as a comparator (far too successful for the Milibandista’s to cope with)

          http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/public-transport/projects/circle-line/fast-facts.html

          • valerie

            but righties do eh

        • La Fold

          What you mean like the ATOs in operation in Copenhagen, Turin, Milan, Switzerland, France, USA & Canada, Malaysia etc etc
          Im not judging… but you should read more.

      • Ron Todd

        If it had been up to the unions the underground would still be using steam engines.

        • Andy

          No, no. Horses.

          • valerie

            sorry for you such an arsewipe

            • Andy

              And you’re such a fascist tart.

              • valerie

                take a chill pill man

        • valerie

          it was union labour that built this country up

          • Ron Todd

            It was the most unionised industries that could not compete in an international market so now we have our boats built in Korea our cars built in Japan or by Japanese companies and everything else in China. The unions are now mostly in monopolies and the tax payer funded sector where there is no competition from more efficient non unionised organisations.

            • valerie

              only because the tories are selling off england

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            No it was enterprising businessmen.

            • valerie

              on the backs of working folk

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                What about the workers blah, blah, blah, blah. Sorr,y that class war rubbish is a show that closed out of town and is only of interest to pea-brained dinosaurs like you.

      • Alexsandr

        try docklands light railway. find the driver.

      • valerie

        these people you talk about in low paid jobs and zero hours would love to earn a living wage like bob crowes members

        • Hugh

          Bob Crowe’s members aren’t on a living wage; they’re on three times the living wage.

          • valerie

            it sounds like thats what you need

            • Hugh

              I don’t really know what your comment means, but if you doubt the accuracy of the statement: The living wage in London is £17k a year; tube drivers get £50k+.

        • La Fold

          50 grand plus is the living wage? Im obviously on the poverty line then. Wheres me working tax credits Gideon?

          • valerie

            you sound like you need aunion

            • La Fold

              You sound like you need professional help.

      • mark

        The thing is the underground is not only made up of train drivers people always quote there wages and terms and conditions.There are many other staff in lots of other roles on far less money than they are. Yes you could bring in driverless trains but that would not break a strike if the supporting staff do not come to work it is irrelevant what the drivers do.
        The RMT represents these supporting staff who are the one’s who will suffer by what London underground are proposing . it is all right for people to take voluntary severance but while that may be good for the individual that is a position gone from the business forever. Creating more unemployment

        • La Fold

          Take the 50 grand salaries and you can pay the support staff more money, improve working conditions, improve the statiuons, upgrade the lines, lower rail fares, employ more people etc

          • valerie

            jealousy is a terrible thing

            • La Fold

              Ive really gotten under your skin eh?
              I actually think youre someone on the wind up but ill amuse you anyway. So all youve done so far is insult me and not refuted any of my points, fair enough but dont get into a slagging match with me flower, im funnier than you for starters.

    • valerie

      should they be on the minimum wage then like bosses would back to the hilt

      • Hugh

        Think there’s possibly some scope for finding middle ground between the minimum wage and £50k a year.

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