If you work in London chances are you’re not in a good mood this morning. The biggest London Underground (LU) strike since 2002 has closed the entire tube network since 6.30pm last night and services won’t resume until Friday morning.
One image that has been widely shared on Facebook and Twitter is the table below, showing the differences in salary, hours and working conditions for train drivers and doctors:
“London Tube drivers do get a raw deal don’t they!! Thanks to @citymapper we’re free to roam around London #beatthestrike #driverlesstrains #pointlessstrike,” explained Ed Har-ries when sharing the image on Facebook.
Many people have pointed out that train drivers can start out on an initial salary £12,000 higher than a junior doctor’s and work fewer hours a week, too – pretty cushy considering that you don’t need qualifications past GCSEs to start training as a driver, according to the fact sheets from the National Careers Service, from which the information is taken.
But this table misses the point – 20,000 workers in the train drivers union (ASLEF) Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite aren’t striking because of pay or hours, but because of changes being forced through before the 24 hour tube is introduced in September.
“We don’t think anyone should be subject to inhumane working conditions, doctors, nurses, any trade unionists, any workers. This union believes in levelling up rather than levelling down,” RMT spokesperson Geoff Martin told i100.co.uk.
People need to think about the fact that the reason tube drivers and train drivers have decent terms and conditions is because they’ve stood up and fought for them. We want everyone to have decent and dignified working hours. This comparison dumbs the discussion down.
According to Finn Bevan, one of Aslef’s lead negotiators, London Underground tried to force through new rosters without consulting staff, which would mean Tube drivers would have to work an unlimited number of weekend and night shifts for no extra pay, and only gave the union a few hours to consider their proposals before withdrawing.
The unions and London Underground are expected to go back to the negotiation table on Friday.