Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Message From Bruvver Crow

Two previous messages...

And now we have his new message: a full-blown 48 hour strike on the London Underground, starting now.

So what's it over, exactly?

To start with, it seems Bob and the bruvvers don't like the pay deal they've been offered. They reckon that a five year deal giving them inflation plus 1% for the first year, and inflation plus 0.5% pa thereafter, is just plain mean.

What! you exclaim.

What the FFFF!!????

Isn't it a fact that tube workers are pretty well wedged already? Don't tube drivers get paid £40 grand as a starting salary, and station supervisors £35-39K? And come to that, isn't it a fact that earnings in the private sector are actually falling?

Yes, well, OK... park the pay issue. The RMT have other grievances.

First, they want a cast iron job guarantee. With such lucrative positions, members are naturally keen not to lose them. Especially given the chill blasts blowing above ground, where everyone else is facing the chop every single day.

And second, it turns out they're also striking for the reinstatement of two suspended comrades facing disciplinaries. One comrade is being victimised by means of a criminal trial for theft, and the other is being picked on over a trivial matter of opening the doors on the wrong side of his train, nearly losing his passengers overboard, and then lying about it afterwards.

So Bob's message today is that ordinaryhardworkinghardpressedwageslave Londoners must suffer so that his members can grab an even bigger slice of the pie, enjoy even more job security, and be even less subject to management discipline.

But Bob's real message is of course much bigger.

His real message is that now is the best chance in years for public sector unions to go for gold.

Think about it. As we blogged here, the public sector is four times more heavily unionised than the private sector, with a 60% membership rate. Which means the unions have far more power in the public sector.

And public sector workers are far more likely to strike (see this post): even in the relative industrial calm of the last five years, they have been 30 times more likely to go out.

The result is that the public sector loses many more days to industrial action than the private sector, even though it employs only a quarter as many people:

So against that background, public sector union bosses are looking at a once in a career opportunity.

Here we have a reeling dispirited government who no longer care if they give away the shop. They're way beyond that. Their main aim now is to minimise the scale of their defeat, which definitely DEFINITELY means no Winter of Discontent style public sector strikes.

Sure, if they give in to big union demands they'll be increasing the problems facing the next government. But why should they worry? They don't care if they make life more difficult for Dave and George in 12 months time - in fact, that would be a positive bonus.

And the union bosses ain't quite so dumb as they look (they can hardly be that dumb). They know that life will be much tougher with Dave and George across the table, if only because D&G will be aiming to stick around for a decade.

So if you're a public sector union boss, there's only one conclusion: now is the time to strike.


Update 10-6 - interesting cross reference on transport pay in today's Times: "Data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows for the first time how much higher BA’s wage costs are than its rivals. The average salary for BA’s 14,000 cabin crew, including bonuses and allowances, is £29,900, compared with £14,400 at Virgin Atlantic and £20,200 at easyJet. BA’s pilots earn an average of £107,600, compared with £89,500 at Virgin and £71,400 at easyJet." Interesting.

1 comment:

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