Will he bring the country to a standstill?

Bob Crow, leader of the RMT union, is at it again. The scourge of London Underground commuters attempted to bring the national rail network to a standstill on the back of a paltry 54% vote by members in favour of a strike. Fortunately an injunction has stopped the walkout for the time being, the RMT having balloted eleven signal boxes that didn’t exist and missed twenty-six real ones amongst other things. Good old Bob used the usual ‘conciliatory’ language on the steps of the court… ‘this is round one, there are fifteen rounds’.

The core of the dispute is Network Rail’s plan to lose 1,500 maintenance jobs, the majority by voluntary redundancy. Bob’s ‘strategy’ is to call a strike on the grounds of safety, even though the rail regulator is happy with Network Rail’s plans. We’d barely notice any difference if only the maintenance workers go on strike, so the signallers are raising a dispute, demanding their luxury terms and conditions won’t change. That’s the general theme of the RMT union… a desire for no change, still stuck in the days of steam engines.

Mr Crow is a former card carrying communist and a member of Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party, and said of his hero that he was ‘the best trade union leader we have ever seen’. Let’s hope Bob emulates Scargill’s greatest feat… the decimation of the NUM union membership. A supporter of Millwall FC, notorious for their violent fans, his pet is a Staffordshire bull terrier named Castro. Methinks you wouldn’t want him living next door to you.

Bob’s sparkling personality came through when he appeared on Have I Got News For You… click the player below to watch a summary, or click here to watch the full show. You’ll see part 1/4 first, select 2/4 onwards from the right hand side of the YouTube screen. Not sure Bob realises the audience are laughing at him and not with him.

Why does this matter? Forget the poor rail commuter left waiting on a windswept platform for the 07:45 that never arrives. Or the motorist struggling to get to work on congested roads. Never mind the bus travellers standing all the way to their destination, if they can get on in the first place. Just think about the family who’ve been saving for months to go on the trip of a lifetime. Think about my daughter Beth and son in law Chris explaining to Connor (7) and Paige (5) why they couldn’t go on their trip to Disneyland Paris on the Eurostar. A trip in the planning for over a year.

Fortunately they went in March and missed the proposed rail strike. But Bob had every intention of spoiling thousands of families Easter breaks. My sons and I have been at the mercy of Mr Crow when we were unable to get to the England v Andorra World Cup qualifying match at Wembley in June last year because of a tube strike. The RMT union wanted a no compulsory redundancies for life clause in workers’ contracts. We were lucky… the Football Association were good enough to give a full ticket refund for any fans who couldn’t get to the match.

Yes, Bob does his job well. Signal workers get £50,000 for a three day week and tube drivers earn £40,000 a year, 43 days annual leave and free rail travel for themselves and spouse for staying awake on the job. But it’s all achieved at the expense of customers. About time a bit more balance was introduced and employers given the option to dismiss staff who fail to honour their contract by withdrawing their labour, something that can only happen after twelve weeks of dispute at the moment.

Walked into St Ives this morning with Linda for the first of the 900 year celebrations. The town centre was crammed with visitors, lots of medieval stalls, knights in armour, mounted as well. Wonderful spectacle. And best of all… the first house martins just returned from Africa, flying over the ancient bridge, and chiffchaffs had returned to Holt Island. Add to that crested grebes are building a nest at The Waits. All we need is for Holt Island to be again open to visitors. Hopefully next week… we were given a guided tour by Colin to see the new walkways built since last autumn.

On the allotment this week managed to plant seeds for leeks, brussel sprouts, mimulus, spring onions and radishes as well as transplanting broccoli seedlings. In fact the greenhouse and shed are full of plants growing like mad, with lots more at home to transport up to the plot. Going to be a good season this year, with direction coming from Linda.

Made more progress in digging over part of the back plot that’s going to be the fruit cage/polytunnel, but more rain meant the ground is still very heavy. Think I’m going to start construction since my new raspberry canes are ready to plant out.

A magnificent win at pool and darts last night. With John having won every month so far this year me or David need to start winning. My tactical use of the video clip below of Jazz during crucial shots by my two sons was the deciding factor.


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