Bob Crow’s performance on the steps of the High Court after losing the court case over the legality of the strike suggest that he does not have the interests of his members or the industry at heart. For him to say that there has been ‘accident after accident’ on the railways is quite simply a disgrace. Ill-informed members of the public may well take him at face value, and worry about travelling on the railways when, in fact, as he well knows, the railways are safer than at any time in their history and just one person has been killed in a railway accident in nearly eight years. Meanwhile, nine people a day die on the roads, to which Bob Crow’s fear tactics will send countless extra people.
He has really blown it this time, demonstrating that the strike is all about politics and narrow interests rather than about safety or even his members’ future in the industry.
I have been rebuked by a couple of RMT members for being sceptical about the union’s use of the safety card to garner support for their action. Having talked to people on all sides of the dispute, and having received emails from several railway workers, I still can’t see any justification for the fears expressed about safety.
Yes, the Office of Rail Regulation did express some concerns about the changes to the maintenance programme, but in a second letter to Iain Coucher, these have been allayed. As I have mentioned before, I am a union member, I write a column for a union newspaper and am totally supportive of workers’ rights to organise. Indeed, the maintenance workers may well have a good case for getting a better deal for the changes being foisted upon them by management.
But to speak, as Bob Crow did, is nothing short of scandalous. There has not been ‘accident after accident’ on the railways and, indeed, the series of accidents that did occur were not down to the lack of staff but, rather, the way the industry was privatised in a great rush, poor management and mistakes by individual workers.
If there are any RMT members who can point to dangerous changes being imposed by Network Rail, please comment on this blog.