Monday, 4 October 2010

Boris Johnson's tube strike ban: the facts

Boris Johnson is on the news banging on about banning strikes where less than 50% of union members vote.

As I've said before, such a "turnout threshold" would have prevented his own election on the back of just er, 19% of London voters:

Take Boris's consultation on removing the Western Extension which received the impressive backing of around 0.3% of Londoners.

Or his comrade David Davis, who withdrew his labour at public cost and received the backing of just 24% of his electorate.

Or Boris himself who was elected as Mayor with the first preferences of just 19% of his electorate.

But the simple fact is that Boris has zero powers to implement a strike ban in any case.

And the only reason he is talking about one now is to cover for his total inaction in getting the promised "no strike deal" with the unions.

So as you mull that one over on your journey home tonight here's a few other statistics to think about:

Boris Johnson's meetings since 2008:

  • Rupert Murdoch: 1
  • Rebekah Wade, The Sun: 2
  • Lord Rothermere, Daily Mail: 1
  • Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan: 1
  • Lily Allen: 1
  • Kelly Brook: 2
  • Tube Union leaders: 0


Rab said...

The story of Boris as Mayor is lots of talk but not much in the way of action and so we see the same again on this.

Anonymous said...

Now that Boris Johnsons Buddies are in Downing Street it appears that the Big Society vision along with " let the people have more say " is fast evaporating !. Did people really believe all the Lie's that came out of Boris Johnsons mouth during his mayoral election campaign. Where is all the Transparency and Accountability that was promised ? The only impression I get from Boris Johnson is that he eats a dictionary for breakfast and regurgitates it when ever he speaks. To make a promise and break it ,then say that they should have their right to strike taken away is the ultimate insult.This is why we have Unions to protect peoples rights from these Snobs that look down on people and kick them where it hurts.

Anonymous said...

A valid reason for requiring a higher vote from unions before allowing a strike, is that they are voting in their own interests, while disrupting the lives of many more people who do not have any say in the matter. In an election everyone has their vote & it is less important if people cannot be bothered to register their opinion.

AdamB said...

Except who is the Mayor of London affects the lives/transport/policing etc of millions of people for at least four years whereas a strike just makes us all slightly late for work once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Adam you missed the point of my previous comment. Everyone has an input into elections (If you didn't vote you can't complain about the outcome). But only the union votes on strike action (those left complaining did not have any input). Therefore I feel the unions should be required to put more effort into casting their votes.

BTW "slightly late for work" cost the economy how much....?

AdamB said...

Only union members vote on whether to strike because it's the union members who do the work.

The right to withhold that Labour is a basic freedom that was already eroded by the previous Conservative government (and not restored by the last Labour government.)

My point is that I don't think Boris is concerned about the democratic principle of turnout but is concerned about eroding that right to strike even further.

"BTW "slightly late for work" cost the economy how much....?"

Going on strike costs money. Holding elections does as well. Maybe we should ban those also.

bluepillnation said...

Are you not forgetting those ghastly one-on-ones with Vanessa Feltz? ;)

AdamB said...

There's been too many of those to count!

stuart graham said...

Firstly, there is the assumption that union members WANT to strike, rather than being driven to it. If self interest is keeping your job and feeding a family, that's not the same as writing a column in the daily telegraph, making mega bucks on top of the job you're already paid for.
Striking because you beleive that the proposed cuts make the tube less safe is not self interest.
However, why have a strike? If you are a serious mayor you'd meet the unions to try and avoid a strike - any other manager facing disruption would.
Perhaps Boris hasn't got negotaiting skills sufficient to stop a dispute?

angelneptunestar said...

It's only fair to read both sides of any dispute and I have carefully read yours.

Because of the severe financial consequences of a transport strike to industry, it would seem to me that voting for a strike and voting for the Mayor are different issues.

The point you make is interesting to raise though. I would like to have the view of a lawyer on this, as to whether the two cases are identical legally. It seems to me not, but I am not a lawyer.

Maybe it would be better to make the turnout of any vote invalid until there was a turnout of at least 50%. If less people voted, the election would have to be held again. It would work out expensive, but it would be fair. You do raise an interesting scenario.
But I can see Boris's point that it is clearly unfair to penalise the capital to the tune of £50M every time a strike is held when only just over 3,000 people have voted to strike. That is clearly unfair.

I would like to know if the two cases, a strike, and voting for the Mayor, and presumably a new government, are identical legally.

AdamB said...

Can you stand up your "penalise the capital to the tune of £50M every time a strike is held" claim or are you just repeating a made up figure?

Mick McT said...

Q. What do you call a Tube Worker (or any other worker) with no right to strike?

A. A slave.

Paul Embery said...

Interesting piece, Adam. We in the FBU requested a meeting with Johnson some time last year, with a view to seeking his assistance in resolving some of the difficulties we were experiencing with Brian Coleman and the Tory-controlled fire authority, and in the hope that his intervention might help avert the path to a full-blown industrial dispute. Johnson sent a perfunctory reply, telling us he was not prepared to meet with FBU leaders and referring us instead to...Brian Coleman. Most helpful...

Anonymous said...

"The right to withhold that Labour is a basic freedom that was already eroded by the previous Conservative government (and not restored by the last Labour government.)"

Why don't they withhold the Labour by quitting the job? This is how professionals handle it!

This all are relicts of the Victorian era but we now leave in 21st century.