Tube drivers get 15 more days annual leave than a teacher (43 as opposed to 28), work almost 20 hours less a week (36/55.7), and have a starting salary which is more than double than that of a teacher (49,673/22,023).
With the national average salary being little over 25,000 per annum, the services of a tube driver already command so great a salary that it saddens me further concessions are having to be made by the TfL with regards to their already respectable salary. If they want to cultivate an image of money scroungers, they’re doing just that. This very popular song exemplifies how many people view tube drivers, especially when on strike.
Taking this into consideration, and the very straightforward nature of their job, I find it a disgrace that they can protest about their payment (more about this later) when clearly those carrying out far more dangerous and tiring jobs are being a paid a lot less. It makes you wonder how there is such a gulf in income between certain professions.
So how is this being allowed to happen? Considering how at peak times, in excess of 3.5 million people use the tube a day, tube drivers can very easily inconvenience a lot of people and so the role they play is pivotal in making sure a regular day at work runs smoothly for millions. Strike and suddenly your voice has to be heard, otherwise the capital comes to a standstill.
That being said, Finn Brennan, lead negotiator of the ASLEF trade union stressed that the strike was not about demanding a pay increase; rather it was because of how the management did not negotiate fairly with drivers about how the Night Tube (no prizes for guessing what that is) would end up working out, with the key issue raised being how it would disrupt the driver’s’ family life and also potentially be bad for their health. These are pretty valid concerns and I would hope that they get
I don’t agree with the strike at all though. The fact that LU offered staff a 2% average pay rise plus a £2,000 one-off payment for drivers affected by a planned weekend night-time service is testament to how money is a talking point when it comes to appeasing tube drivers. This is a bit of a punt and I’ll understand if you disagree because it’s unsubstantiated, but I think fair few of those voting for a strike did so because of monetary reasons. Also, the argument that this disrupts the work-life balance is not a great one, considering (as stated previously) that they get a fairly substantial amount of annual leave comparatively speaking. Many jobs have long hours and evidently being a tube driver doesn’t make you exempt from this. Robots wouldn’t have a domestic life to take care of so surely they’d be far more ideal?
In fact, the idea of fully automated trains happening is not a distant one. Of course concerns have been raised given this would displace a lot of people at TfL, and so it is thought that they would continue to work in some capacity.
Who exactly is to blame for this and what do you think should happen? Drop a comment below!
*The song, albeit entertaining, contains profanities. So watch it at your own discretion.