Talk about a rough ride in the press! You’d think we were planning mass murder, not fighting for staff and passenger safety.
The BBC’s reports sounded like they were lifted straight from an LUL press release, claiming that you “might not have noticed” there was a strike on cos disruption was so minimal. The Evening Standard, on the other hand, reported “chaos”, not because they want to talk up the effectiveness of our action, but because dramatic headlines sell newspapers and serve their campaign to demonise us.
Amidst the reporting of the strikes, finding an honest account of our reasons for taking action was like finding a needle in a haystack. The media reduced it to a spat about whether an agreement had been broken and by whom, or a difference of opinion as to how best to carry out displacements. That’s hardly going to excite the interests of passengers, is it? No – it’s much more likely to make them think that they are pawns in a fight between bosses and unions. But that’s the point of reporting it like that, isn’t it?
How about telling people that LUL is trying to cut staffing levels at some stations so drastically that your safety will be in danger? And that their refusal to budge on this has forced the union to turn to its last resort of striking? No, no, no. Readers/viewers might sympathise with the workers. We can’t have that. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, you know.
The Evening Standard gave over its column space to Tim O’Toole to put his views, but Tubeworker didn’t notice any such favour extended to station staff.