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Notes from underground

Tube union members only have to look at their underpaid colleagues on the buses to see what union weakness means in practice. Strikes mean pay rises

By Dan Kuper   February 2006

The London Underground doesn’t set the standard for much, but it boasts perhaps the worst post-Thatcher industrial relations in Britain. Led by old-style bruiser Bob Crow, the RMT is still very much a beer and sandwiches union, give or take the sandwiches. Its take-no-prisoners attitude to strike action has earned it a somewhat ambivalent relationship with the travelling public.

People often say to me, “Why are they always on strike? They earn good money,” as though these two things were unrelated. In fact, wages for most frontline staff are not excessive. Only the drivers and supervisors earn over £30,000. Station…

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