12 reasons all Londoners should support the Tube strike, despite the inconvenience

May 3, 2014 9:07 am Comments Off on 12 reasons all Londoners should support the Tube strike, despite the inconvenience Views: 342

Image via Suzy Franklin

1. Defending the right to strike matters, even if a specific strike doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your own employment situation

It is because of the hard work of labour activists over the years that we enjoy many employment rights we now take for granted. Do you only work 5 days a week? Thank the trade unions!

One of the first successful strikes in the UK happened in 1888, when female workers at a match factory fought against 14-hour work days, low pay, excessive fines and the health risks of working with white phosphorus.

2. The inconvenience of the strike gives Londoners something to complain about, which is a popular bonding activity in the UK

You had an absolute nightmare getting in this morning. You know who else had a complete shocker? Jeff who sits at the desk opposite. You and Jeff have worked together for almost a year now but, beyond the slightly awkward “alright mate” whenever you pass each other on the way to the water cooler, you’ve never really had the opportunity to truly connect.

Well, now’s your chance. You are allies in the face of adversity. Stoic comrades, united forever by your shared ordeal. Maybe you could even grab a quick pint together after work.

3. Despite what propagandists might tell you, this isn’t about Tube workers’ greed

Although London Underground have guaranteed there will be no compulsory redundancies, the closure of ticket offices will result in 950 job losses.

Some employees will be forced to apply for different jobs within the organisation, and fear this may result in loss of pay. The starting salary for ticket office staff is currently around £25-27k, which is hardly fat-cat territory, especially when youtake into account the extortionate housing costs in the capital.

4. Even if employees don’t take a salary cut, they’ll be expected do a lot more for the same amount of money

Fewer staff at stations will mean that those left see a significant increase in their daily workload. Some workers have also expressed concerns that compulsory changes in role will force them to work unfavourable shift patterns, which may not fit around family and other commitments.

5. Fewer staff at stations isn’t just bad for the workers themselves, it’s also bad for commuters

Specifically, there won’t be as many trained personnel around to deal with any emergencies that may arise – which could increase the risk of danger for commuters. This could also be a particular problem for disabled people, who often need extra support to travel.

6. For once in your life, you’ve got a valid reason to be massively late for work

And your boss can’t say a word without seeming completely unreasonable. That’s if they even bother coming in themselves. If not, anything goes! You’re in charge of yourself for the day, make the most of it.

7. Plus, if you’re really lucky, you might even be allowed to work from home yourself

Given the choice between spending an hour crammed in a metal capsule with dozens of other jostling, sweating, farting human bodies – and sitting in our pyjamas eating ice-cream – we know what we’d go for.

Also, studies shows that many workers feel more productive, creative and motivated when working outside of the office. So there’s that.

8. Alternatively, you might decide to get a taxi in, and make-believe that you’re the kind of baller who can afford to be driven places on a regular basis

This was the strategy chosen by several members of the UsVsTh3m team this morning. We spent our journey listening to the soothing sounds of Magic FM, and arrived at work feeling at least 75% less misanthropic than average.

9. The claim that hardly anyone actually uses ticket offices is a lie

In 2013, 34 million people bought their tickets from an office (that’s 19% of customers) and evidence suggests that elderly people are particularly likely to struggle with automated systems.

Futhermore, selling tickets is just one of the functions served by the offices. Last year, over a million people used a ticket office to get a refund after being overcharged on their pay as you go Oyster fare, another 1.4 million used one to have their fare ‘adjusted’ (whatever that means).

10. Anyone who has used a self-service checkout knows that machines are by no means infallible

Apparently machines will be upgraded to serve some of the functions that can currently only be completed at a ticket office, but we’re feeling pretty skeptical. Sometimes, when things go wrong, you need an actual human to sort them out. And, if TfL get their way, actual humans are going to be a lot harder to actually locate.

11. We don’t actually need to make these cuts to save the economy

HM Revenue and Customs estimates that the UK loses approximately £42 billion inunpaid taxes each year. The campaign group Tax Justice Network puts the figure as high as £120 billion. Either way, these figures dwarf the £50 million that Transport for London are being forced to save due to budget cuts. Government spending cuts are a political choice, not an inevitability.

12. It’s pissing Boris off

In his 2008 election campaign, Boris Johnson vowed to keep ticket offices at Tube stations open. If we don’t hold politicians to account for breaking their promises, we can expect to be lied to with increasing frequency.

Also, anything that winds up the bumbling, floppy-haired, Bullingdon Club tosspot is pretty much A-OK with us.

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