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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The union makes us strong

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.

– From the fifth verse of the union song Solidarity Forever, written in 1915 by Ralph Chaplin.

Mind the gap: Tube drivers on £100,000 fly past pilots

Staff who just open and close doors on automatic trains are receiving a 4% rise

Some London Tube drivers have broken the £100,000 pay barrier, overtaking many airline pilots, according to data released under freedom of information (FoI) laws. Their pay packages have gone into six figures even as their jobs have become easier: trains on five of the Tube’s 11 lines are automatic and the driver simply opens and closes the doors. Another four lines will be automatic by 2023.

The pay figures were revealed as drivers on the Central line prepare for a strike on Saturday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the West End, over the sacking of a colleague who failed three drug tests.

– From today’s Sunday Times.

Looks like the train drivers’ union ASLEF could give the capitalist exploiters a lesson or two in taking “untold millions they never toiled to earn”. The tube drivers long ago ceased to expend either brain or muscle but have kept their power to stop the wheels turning when, for instance, they feel outraged at the injustice of one of their number losing his job just for failing a drug test or three. They can swing that sort of deal because their employer, Transport for London, is an arm of the government, under no real pressure to keep costs down. Welcome to your future under the next Labour government: Labour has promised to renationalise the railways and ASLEF is affiliated to the Labour Party.

18 comments to The union makes us strong

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I do recommend that readers click on ap’s link. One to bookmark.

    Unfortunately there are a lot of kiddies too young to remember what British Rail was actually like, and it’s not like their teachers will actually educate them on the matter.

    Actually I vacillate between “nationalization” and “nationalisation”. Traditionally even in the UK the “z” spelling was favoured by the Oxford University Press. It is more logical.

    But assuming you are a Yank, ap, the incomprehension as to the strange preferences of many voters in our respective countries is mutual. I gather that the delightful Ms Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez a.k.a. “Occasional Cortex” is the youngest Congresswoman in history and is widely considered to be a rising star of the Democratic Party.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, she has a big homely mouth and uses it to spout garbage with the best of ’em.

    Now ask me what I really think. 😉

  • bobby b

    Natalie Solent (Essex)
    December 16, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    “I gather that the delightful Ms Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez a.k.a. “Occasional Cortex” is the youngest Congresswoman in history and is widely considered to be a rising star of the Democratic Party.”

    She’s one of the few politicians in recent memory that BOTH sides celebrate for her election.

  • Sonny Wayze

    “Actually I vacillate between “nationalization” and “nationalisation”. Traditionally even in the UK the “z” spelling was favoured by the Oxford University Press. It is more logical.”

    I thought ap was on about ‘favor’ versus ‘favour’! Never mind…

  • John B

    ‘They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn…’

    What about the untold millions ‘they’ risked to capitalise the businesses, where did that come from? And the untold millions ‘they’ lose when businesses fall on hard times or go bust because of competition, changes in consumer preferences, ‘Acts of God’, dozy Governments, etc?

    All businesses start with one or a few people who toil and earn and slog their guts out in order to get the business going and grow it so people who don’t have the gumption or courage to do so can have a job and whine about it.

  • John B

    ‘Actually I vacillate between “nationalization” and “nationalisation”. ’

    I can help: the correct spelling is Nazionalisation, as anyone who is old enough to remember the good old days when Britain’s ‘only’ Democratic Socialist Party (as Labour used to describe itself) will know is the most appropriate for State-run, organised-labour controlled, inefficient Laviathan.

    Modern day reference: see NHS.

  • Y. Knott

    – Anybody who can live in London on £100,000 a year has my respect!

  • Pat

    This will eventually be sorted, but not until all lines are automated. Then strike breaking becomes easy.

  • What about the untold millions ‘they’ risked to capitalise the businesses (John B, December 17, 2018 at 11:02 am)

    As the cartoon book ‘Marx for Beginners’ explains with a triumphant ‘gotcha’ air, that doesn’t count because, since capitalism is a system of exploitation, the wicked capitalists only got their untold millions of investment capital by a previous act of wicked exploitation, so that proves that their claim of being a necessary part of the process is false, and therefore capitalism is exploitation.

    Formal socialist analyses conceal the circularity under mounds of verbiage or occasionally – e.g. in Rosa Luxembourg’s theorising – escape from the circle in the far past by postulating an “original crime of robbery” whereby the wholesome equality of prehistory was converted into unequal haves and have nots.

  • Mr Ecks

    Y Knutt–And whose fucking fault is that?

    Between parasitical imports, ecofreak congestion bullshit, rates for Bliars scumbag Mayors-of-the Pighouse and all the rest it is hardly surprising. The remedies are obvious enough.

  • Ellen

    My first personal experience with unions soured me on them. I was a grad student. We were making something large and technical. We had to keep the windows covered over, because there was a union man trying to peer in and catch us lowly students connecting wires – and they owned the wonderful world of wires. They wouldn’t have known how to do what we were doing, but they didn’t want to allow us to do it.

    It’s not subway doors, but it’s the same principle.

  • CaptDMO

    Gosh, what ever happened to the elevator operators, once their job became to open and close the doors, and push a button?
    Gosh, what ever happened to those “striking” tech workers that spent their days developing AI, and autonomous apps, that eliminated human intervention?
    We’re all cheering for electric,autonomous cars, trucks RIGHT?
    And THOSE aren’t even on tracks, with limited, specific, destinations.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    All businesses start with one or a few people who toil and earn and slog their guts out in order to get the business going and grow it so people who don’t have the gumption or courage to do so can have a job and whine about it.

    Writes John B. Truer words never said.

    The Tube is to some degree what economists call a “natural monopoly” – if you want to take rapid transit around the capital, there are limited alternatives (although there are some). If ASLEF or others engage in this form of state-sanctioned rent-seeking behaviour by using their muscle in this way, and prices for travel were to rise rather than be capped by political fiat, people would react by increasingly working from home; using different forms of transport, even if inconvenient; relocating to cheaper places with less extortionate transport costs, etc. Property prices would take a hit: people would be less willing to work and live in a place where the local system rips you off. Land prices would fall, etc. So there’d be lots of effects.

    Ironically, if we get another Labour government, or even continue with the current crappy “Conservative” one, ASLEF members earning these big figures will be paying plenty of income tax, and, eventually, their kids will be hit with inheritance tax. The sad thing is that such taxes don’t discriminate between those making a living through competitive business and entrepreneurial risk-taking, and rent-seeking folk such as the drivers’ unions.

  • Paul Marks

    The late W.H. Hutt spent much of his life showing the terrible harm that unions and “collective bargaining” (the “strike threat system”) does – in the end, even to union members themselves as they destroy whole industries (and, thus, destroy their own jobs).

    It is always backed by the threat of FORCE – governments often do not allow “strikers” (i.e. people who do not turn up for work) to be sacked, and “picketing” (a MILITARY term) is based on the implied threat of violence.

    The mess that unions and collective bargaining create is terrible.

  • Richard Thomas

    I bet there is a light that comes on when it’s safe to open the doors and it goes off when it’s time to close them too.

  • Richard Thomas

    Paul Marx: Implied? I remember the footage from the coal strikes.

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