London Tube Strike: Fight Against Thatcher Regime Culture and Technology, Not Bob Crow
London Tube Strike: Fight Against Thatcher Regime Culture and Technology, Not Bob CrowReuters

I don't care what Bob Crow earns, or where or with whom he spends his holidays, or where he lives.

What I care about is that the London Underground, which was privatised under the Thatcher regime, is now a commercially run company whose sole aim seems to be making profit or savings at any cost.

The history of the company, as I recall, does not demonstrate care for the customers, nor has it always been known for its concerns for safety – remember the fire at Kings Cross where Union protests about safety were ignored?

Nowhere have I seen or heard any indication that the public have been consulted about the decision to remove real human staff and replace them with technology.

Always a sure-fire success don't you agree? Think about automated telephone-answering services.

More Power to the People

It has been a boardroom decision to implement the newest toys (technology) into the mnderground, in the monopoly game that our services have been turned into.

The public users of the underground, who paid for it in their taxes let us be clear, albeit many years ago, who are sardined into carriages and who pay for the privilege, are to be deprived of ticket offices and the human contact that is so important and so under-valued it seems by the Lord Mayor and the Board of Directors.

Real staff who can and do answer questions, offer advice and guidance and are polite and helpful are to be reallocated...where? For what purpose? With what safeguards?

In exchange we are offered savings of £50m (€60m, $81m) and technology that a large part of the population find intimidating and challenging.

If technology was not a part of your formative years, being faced with machines that blink lights at you, or offer numerous inexplicable options, that swallow your credit card while a queue forms behind you is, believe me, an intimidating experience.

I would wait ages longer than I have ever had to in order to be given the attention of a ticket-office attendant who asks me what I want, gives it to me, takes money and gives the right change and tells me important stuff about how to get to where the train goes from.

The underground is not solely used by Londoners, and any visitor trying to get about in London may find the environment not just strange but somewhat un-nerving.

Human Interaction

The behaviour of the underground staff is a huge asset to the underground.

How have its directors missed this?

How would the atmosphere of the London Olympics have been enhanced by carefully placed machines instead of people?

The ticket offices serve a purpose and provide benefits to the public and to the underground that those in the boardroom may not be aware of; I don't think £50m is anywhere near worth it in exchange.

Because the argument has become personalised, our attention is diverted from the main points that affect us all.

Crow and his union have challenged boardroom power, and the union has threatened to withdraw labour unless listened to.

People who earn wages as underground employees don't have huge sums of money to play games with, unlike boardroom directors, and are not playing. They don't go on strike lightly, they have commitments to cover.

What is really ugly is that, as a result of their challenge, Crow's personal life is publicly and adversely commented on, and the Lord Mayor of London threatens to introduce legislation to curb the right of people in key positions to withold their labour.

How very democratic.

And I wonder how far the public would be affected if the boardroom withdrew its labour.

I begin to fear that this strike and the issues that brought it about are indicative of the most degenerate political times we have yet met.

The people who make the decisions that affect the flavour of our lives in many cases seem to espouse a very limited and limiting philosophy.

This strike could be an opportunity to examine not just the underlying causes of protest, but official response to protest, another symptom of which is the gagging law that prevents the voice of protest being heard, rather than the soap opera it threatens to degenerate into.

Ros Curwood is a retired teacher, working with challenging behaviour in kids as an Educational Therapist in schools.