Tube strike: The train driver's letter that may change your mind on this week's walkout

Around 20,000 union members went on strike and caused central London to shut down

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 10 July 2015 09:09
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Commuters queue for buses as tube drivers are on strike in London
Commuters queue for buses as tube drivers are on strike in London

Londoners vented their anger today after thousands of Tube workers downed tools and walked out in the largest strike in over a decade – but one Tube driver’s open letter may change your mind about the strike.

Mike Davey posted the letter on Facebook, explaining his reasoning for striking and claiming he believes the night Tubes, due to be implemented from September of this year, are not supported by Transport for London.

Mr Davey, who makes clear that the strike is not about money, said senior management had failed to introduce the changes in a way that “recognises that staff are human beings with lives and families as well as a job.”

You can read his full letter below:

Dear All my Commuter friends & anyone else who is interested in details of the strike action and dispute between TfL and their staff.

As you know I don’t usually comment on my work life as nobody really cares about other people’s jobs but due to some friends posting complete bullshit that they’ve copied and pasted from the media and haven’t got the common sense to ask someone who actually knows what they’re talking about now leaves me to enlighten you.

This dispute is not about money!

You can expect the usual barrage of total bollox in the media about “Greedy Overpaid Train Drivers” but this dispute has never been about money, It is about protecting work life balance and making sure that change in contracts are negotiated, not just imposed. And it’s not only Train drivers that voted for industrial action, it’s every grade of staff that works on the Underground network.

Everyone I work with that I know has given the same message, we cannot continue to have more and more weekend and anti-social hours working.

I have never been opposed to Night Tube, but it has to be introduced in a way that is fair; that recognises that staff are human beings with lives and families as well as a job.

The job I signed up to do works 1 week of nights over a 52 week period, sometimes 2 weeks if need be but under new terms I would have to work a minimum of 14 weeks of nights. I have a family, I would like to see them at weekend, shift work already takes a lot of that away. TfL can offer as much as they want, I work to live, not live to work.

TfL could have spent the last three months genuinely discussing how to resolve this dispute. They chose not to. They have not changed their position in any way (until yesterday, keep reading I’ll get to that).

If London comes to a halt this week, the people who should be blamed are not those who work hard to keep it moving all year round. It is the directors, and those above them, who simply do not believe that their staff have a right to a reasonable quality of life.

Yesterday’s events (Monday 6th July) at ACAS were really quite extraordinary. TfL having failed to change their offer for the last three months, now made a new proposal in the afternoon, but explained that it was “time bound” and would be “withdrawn if its conditions were not accepted by 18.30 this evening” by all four trade unions and industrial action was suspend.

TfL must have been aware that of course it would be impossible for Unions to comply with this ultimatum. Unions would need to properly consider the implications of the proposal and consult with Reps and their Executive Committees. Unions offered to return to ACAS at 12.00 today (Tuesday 7th July) to respond to the proposal but were told that it would be off the table after 18.30 today (Monday).

To be clear, Unions did not reject the offer. It has been withdrawn because the four Trade Unions were unable to comply with an utterly unrealistic “take it or leave it” ultimatum. It is pointless for Unions to express an opinion on an offer that no longer exists.

This now puts Unions in a position where there is no offer on pay, conditions or Night Tube on the table. It is difficult to believe that TfL are negotiating in good faith. Their offer seems to have been designed, not to resolve the dispute but to be used as a way to blame the Unions for what now seems to be inevitable industrial action.

Union members voted by a record breaking margin for industrial action.

I personally believe that TfL do not want to run a Night Tube service as it will cost them millions, the train and track are maintained to a minimum standard as it is but the Mayor of London announced it before it was ever discussed so they had to push ahead with it. I have a feeling TfL will now say it can’t run Night Tube due to the Unions but in reality they actually don’t want it.

Strike action will start from 21.30 on Wednesday 8th July.

Thanks for reading x

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