Friday, June 22, 2012

London-wide strike: first for thirty years

My latest for The Guardian deals with today's bus drivers' strike:

The London-wide bus strike today is the first for 30 years. It is an offensive strike, in that rather than defending existing conditions the drivers want something more: a bonus of £500 for their work during the Olympic Games. It is also strategically offensive, since part of the aim of the union is to restore collective bargaining across the capital, rather than conditions being decided at the company level.

The significance of this may be lost on London's transport bosses. Most strike actions in recent years have tended to be defensive, attempting to either prevent or mitigate cutbacks. Moreover, the defining context for most industrial action today is the public sector's attempt to defend itself against the Tories' cuts. In this case, however, the vote for strike action over an offensive issue was 94%. The union says the strike is solid, and TFL is warning of serious disruption. This doesn't suggest that the workers are in a timid mood...