This non-blog is brought to you courtesy of Aslef and SouthWest Trains. There are, as promised, almost no SWT services running today and while I could get into work if I tried hard enough, I decided against. I was going to take a day off tomorrow anyway and the thought of attempting to insert myself onto a District line tube carrying both its own passengers and probably half the refugees from my usual train just didn’t appeal somehow.

Not being a train driver or a train manager, I don’t know the ins and outs of this dispute beyond the two statements that have been put out by both sides, so, uncharacteristically, I’m going to refrain from commenting. But I will say this. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute itself, if two sets of adults can’t sort out something like, this without ending up dragging not one but 350,000 innocent third parties into the conflict then something has gone badly awry with the pair of them. Both sides claim to be acting in the best interests of the passengers – now that I can comment on. And my comment begins with B and ends with ollocks.

What really bugs me about these strikes is the timing of them. You can see the thinking in the smoke filled rooms of Aslef HQ as the union leaders planned the action over their beer and sandwiches: ‘We’ll make it the day after the bank holiday. That way everyone will get an extra long weekend and we’ll be carried shoulder high on a parade of grateful commuters released from the toils of their jobs for an extra day of frolicking in the sunshine.’  What they may not have factored into their calculations is that some of us actually need to go to work and that if we take a day off that’s coming out of our holiday entitlement or pay, not theirs. I’m also perfectly capable of organising a long weekend all by myself, thank you very much, when it suits me. And while a day not driving trains doesn’t leave you with a backlog of undriven trains to deal with the morning after, a day not doing whatever it is I do (answering emails?) leaves me with a substantial backlog of not-done things to catch up with when I finally do get in.

If the unions really cared about us, the commuters, as they claim to do, then they would strike on a Sunday, or the bank holiday. But they don’t because that wouldn’t have the effect that a strike on a working day would have. So we’re left with their crocodile tears and their pretended concern and an inconvenient day off or a struggle into work. And because both sides know fine well we’ve no alternative in the long run, we’ll continue to be the ones that suffer until they sort themselves out. Grrr


7 responses to “Struck

  1. Hold on. Earlier this year the RMT called a strike on New Years Eve/DAy, and got slating – why not strike on a work day…

    …so they do, and guess what… why can’t train people strike on the weekend or bank holidays. Interesting.

    Lets face it, when ever train people either LU or NR walk out, it’s for a reason – right or wrong.

    I don’t know anything about this walk so I wont comment on that.

    Hope you enjoyed your extra dayof sunshine.

  2. Not from me, they didn’t. At least I don’t think so.

    And I know people don’t strike on a mere whim – but I can’t believe that between them both sides really couldn’t come to some sort of agreement that didn’t involve this level of inconvenience to their fellow Londoners. Striking should surely be a last resort; sometimes it feels more like a first resort.

  3. Disgruntled is disgruntled and I can understand why!

  4. You’d be disappointed if I wasn’t …

  5. By all means let them announce that it is a manager driving and we can decide whether to take the risk or not. My cousin is a driver for SWT and frankly given the stories he has been telling me I would rather my mum drove the train than some of his colleagues.

  6. I’m not too keen on having them driving trains if they’re a bit rusty, but it can’t be beyond the wit of man, or even SWT, to have their managers spend a week a year actually driving the trains. Time spent at the pointy end might actually make them better managers … (& of course they probably got loads of practice yesterday so does that mean there’s nothing to strike about next friday?)

    Meanwhile, I’m with Moobs – let the customers decide. Or get his mum in the cab. I’m sure she’d be fine …

  7. Hi anonymous, thanks for the comments & the info. It’s always good to have a perspective from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about as opposed to just ranting like me …

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