May 2011 - Dont moan - organise!

01 June 2013

During our recent industrial action in Arriva Trains Wales, an online news agency tried to set up a system to enable commuters to get around the effects of the strike.


Various journalists invited me to be incensed by this, but, perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t feel that way. The fact is that we never set out to alienate passengers, because our dispute isn’t with them. For the most part, our passengers are working people like us. Our dispute is with a stubborn employer.


We always get a mass of emails when we take industrial action. Most are just the malcontents who have a rant, often in the most offensive way. It’s at times like this that it’s a blessing to have that ‘delete’ button!


Others are rather sadder. These are the people who say we should ‘get back to work’ because they haven’t had a rise for years and they are suffering from the recession. I feel sorry for them. They have a peculiar mind-set that comes up with the logic that, ‘I am suffering, so everyone should be suffering.’


It comes from jealousy and a sense of impotence. ‘I can’t do anything about my own situation, so I hate anyone else having the ability to demand respect and a fair return for their labour.’


We send these people a message suggesting that they begin to organise unions in their own workplaces. It would be a much better use of their time than moaning at workers who are successfully organised.


I know it is sometimes difficult for commuters to think rationally when they’re waiting at a station and there’s no train in sight. But in calmer moments, I am sure most passengers realise we are on the same side. And when they are in dispute, ASLEF members will rally to their aid. It is part of our proud tradition.

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