Many readers will have already noticed that there is a tube strike in London at the moment. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson must have surely spotted that the RMT union leader Bob Crow is not someone you can compromise with or negotiate with. He is someone that must be defeated. This is something Margaret Thatcher realised with regard to Arthur Scargill.
The Left are very keen on health and safety when it involves increasing state spending and regulation even when the risk is tiny. But when it comes to sacking people for causing genuine safety hazards it is a different matter. Carl Campbell opened the doors on the wrong side of the train at a Victoria Line station he then lied about carrying out safety checks. He was sacked and now the tube is on strike.
Boris Johnson says: "We need to take the thumbs of the RMT off the windpipe of London commuters with a no-strike deal." But why would the RMT agree to any such deal? They like having their thumbs just where they are.
As well as Margaret Thatcher, Boris should take inspiration from Ronald Reagan and an announcement he made on August 3 1981 in response to the air traffic controllers strike. The Reagan Library website offers the following account:
He said if they did not return to work within 48 hours, their jobs would be terminated and they would not be re-hired. Although he didn’t want to fire anybody, President Reagan would not
tolerate their strike and felt that if they chose not to return to work with full knowledge of what he had said, that he wasn’t firing them, but they were giving up their jobs based on their individual
Whether they underestimated President Reagan’s resolve, or the ability of the remaining controllers to handle the additional work load, many members of PATCO did forfeit their jobs and their careers. Although the airlines and the traveling public temporarily endured some difficult times, the resulting control system emerged safer and more efficient than ever, in spite of operating with 6,000 less controllers. This crisis, which came at the beginning of the Reagan
Administration, sent an important message to those who may have doubted President Reagan’s commitment to keeping his word that he undoubtedly would respond with authority and conviction whenever necessary.
Reagan had the advantage that the law was on his side. He was dealing with an illegal strike. I don't know what the legal position would be if Boris resolved to sack those who won't work. If he doesn't have the legal power to take this stance the next Conservative Government should bring in the changes to provide it.
The London Assembly have passed a motion condemning the strike. The Labour Members proposed a weaselly, moral equivalence, amendment condemning the RMT and Boris but it was defeated. This was an important challenge for the London Labour Party to give a straight condemnation of the strike without ifs or buts. They failed the challenge.
Roger Evans has details on his blog