It’s really quite amazing.  Boris Johnson, not content with presiding over far more Tube strikes than his predecessor is now seemingly conniving in a fairly blatant spin attempt to pretend there’s an ASLEF strike on the 29th April which doesn’t appear to have been balloted for (and would therefore be illegal) and ASLEF themselves claim doesn’t exist even as a subject of discussion:

ASLEF’s General Secretary Keith Norman said today that the question of possible industrial action on the day of the Royal Wedding has not even been discussed by the union’s executive.
The union’s London officer Steve Grant stressed that no ballot had been held and the union and the management were due to resume negotiations about compensation for all Bank Holiday working by London Underground tube drivers.

Now, given the way the Tube’s been working lately Boris may well be happier if no one tries to use it on Royal Wedding day, but really, poor show, what?  Buck your ideas up and get a grip, man.

As part of the spin (or, for all we know, because someone mentioned it to him and he didn’t bother to check the facts) Boris’s laughable 2012 Twitter account has been pushing this rather desperate video message from a ‘frankly amazed’ Boris directly to the tube drivers whose union hasn’t balloted for strike action on the 29th and who haven’t voted for it, appealing emotionally for them not to strike.  Superb British farce and top comedy value.  Legend:

“I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of sensible tube drivers will treat this suggestion in exactly the same way that London’s firefighters treated the suggestion that they should go on strike on Bonfire Night…”

I’m not sure what’s more worrying here, Boris issuing videos calling for workers to rise up and throw off the chains of democratic organised labour or the fundamental misunderstanding he appears to have of the current state of the firefighters industrial dispute.  I’m fairly sure they voted for strike action, and the FBU only withdrew the 5/11 strike threat when the Fire Service chiefs agreed to go to resolution, resulting in a proposal on working hours being accepted by overwhelming vote of the membership.  Unfortunately, according to the FBU, the bosses are showing signs of backing down from what was agreed, possibly under pressure from (sigh) Brian Coleman.  So, if Boris is telling the unions to look to the firefighters for an example, that example is:

  • you vote overwhelmingly to strike
  • you only withdraw the threat when something concrete is offered around arbitration
  • you don’t back down until you’ve got Boris’s guys 100% nailed to what they’ve promised, because they’re fundamentally not to be trusted

Nice work on the industrial relations, Mr. Mayor.  That’s really delivering on the no-strike agreement.  I’m not sure you really want to invite London’s sensible tube drivers to examine the way Brian Coleman has handled the firefighters strike and draw their own conclusions about whether your administration can be trusted, or they’ll be out before you can say ‘Red Robbo’.

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