I remember my first summer in London. The year was 1996 and even though it was the wettest month on record at the time, all seemed blissful and nice. Of course, our memoires are those we choose to remember and in time many things appear far “rosier” than they might actually have been. And so, it is every year that I also get reminded of what struck me as utterly odd at the time of my arrival. You see, tube or railway strikes have been the one thing during my time in London that occur with a frightening regularity. Every year, we have at least one and so last week, I experienced again what the tyranny of man can achieve when but a small group of people hold the rest of the world at ransom.
All of this is done under the most laughable of circumstance. For those that care, I encourage you to study the history of each strike for the last 20 odd years, and give me one good reason why I should not go to work today just because I don’t feel like it. Because that’s the thing, we (the general public) don’t have that choice. We don’t control the one bridge across the river and force those that need to cross exorbitant fees to get on with their journey. Which is the reason we outlawed these types of practices centuries ago.
As it happens, this post is not an attack against the unions. It is an attack on the sheer madness of letting this situation get to where it is. London produces more than 22% of the entire UK’s GDP. The city is reliant on millions of workers getting to their workstations as efficiently as possible, so they can continue to drive productivity and make the country run. London is a marvel of modern-day technology, a behemoth on the global map as a financial centre and more broadly an example of world class multiculturalism.
To inhibit this super-efficient ecosystem through the very basic tactic of not allowing the workers to get to their jobs, is said to cost the economy more than £100 million a day. So, adding up all the number of strike days and multiplying the total by that number, means we have damaged the economy by several billion pounds over recent years. And this does not even take into account the average fare increases of more than 400% in just the time that I have been here. You really have to wonder what else needs to happen before someone does us all a favour and automates the whole bloody thing.