Today, London has all but come to a standstill, as a 24-hour tube strike creates chaos across all lines, sending commuters crying on to packed buses in the rain. Tube workers, supported by both unions, RMT and the TSSA, walked out from 6pm yesterday after talks with Transport For London about a suggested reduction in staffing levels and station closures.
Getting around London today has been hell. Good. Strike action means nothing unless it effectively shows how important the work being defended is. Every left-wing politician worth their salt will surely support such a strong defence of workers’ rights, right?
Wrong. It seems that the Labour Party, supposedly the party of working people, isn’t all that keen on today’s strikes. ‘This tube strike is causing misery to millions of Londoners’, London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted. For good measure, he even congratulated TFL staff who refused to support the strike: ‘Thank you to @TfL staff who have kept 67 per cent of stations open during today’s unnecessary strike action.’ In an 1:45 minute clip with Sky News, Khan used the term ‘amicably round the table’ five times – union bosses discussing workers’ rights over tea and biscuits? That’s fine with Khan. But workers standing up for themselves, behind picket lines? Seemingly, that’s not okay.
And, while Khan ran his mouth on Twitter, there was a notable silence from another Labour bigwig – party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In fact, the most that can be attributed to Corbyn’s opinion of these latest strikes is that he was ‘refusing to condemn them’, and that was back in December.
So can we cut to the chase, and all agree that Labour’s claims to be on the side of working people, to speak for the little man, is utter nonsense? Calling the strikes a #RailFail today, the Labour Party took to tweeting about its plans to nationalise railways (when pigs fly and it wins an election) rather than support striking workers in the here and now.