No sooner had the preliminary discussions on a new pay deal for LU staff begun than the Chief Operating Officer got his tiny violin out and started tugging at our heartstrings about how terribly hard up the company is.
"We face a difficult financial climate ... Further pressure on our finances is inevitable ... Organisations in both the private and public sectors have seen severe pay restraint or pay freezes..."
In other words: don't get your hopes up, guys and girls. We might find you some crumbs from the table, but that'll be about your lot.
Well, sorry, but that's not good enough. And here at Tubeworker, we're simply not buying the idea that there's no money around. We've reported a number of LU and TfL expenses outrages recently, including...
And let's not forget the basic fact that LU and TfL managers (who seem to be constantly multiplying: we've now got nearly 100 "Area Managers", notionally "looking after" one or two stations each, "earning" around £70,000) are paid huge salaries. Capping managers' salaries at £100,000 (does anyone really need to earn more than £100,000?!) would save £15 million a year. But when the RMT proposed that cutting top bosses' pay might be a fairer way to make savings than closing ticket offices and slashing jobs, the company said TfL bosses didn't earn enough! (see here for more). TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy is paid four times more than the Prime Minister (not that he's "worth" his money, of course), but our employers still think that's not enough.
Our fat cat bosses are raking it in. And what are they being paid for, exactly? To write bulletins warning us, the people who actually run the railway, of "severe pay restrain or pay freezes".
Thanks, but no thanks. It's been take, take, take from the company for too long. It's time we took something back. This pay campaign is our chance to take a stand against austerity and profiteering fat cats who see public services as a cash-cow to be chopped up and outsourced. London Underground workers are generally paid better than workers in many other industries and workplaces because we've stood our ground and fought for decent pay and conditions. Let's stand our ground again, and set an example to workers elsewhere.
Over the coming weeks, Tubeworker will feature further discussion on the pay campaign, including a range of views on the unions' claims and what exactly we should be fighting for. For info, the RMT's claim can be viewed online here.