"London Tube drivers earning £100,000 a year" screamed The Times headline, suggesting that London Underground train drivers now earn a six figure sum. However, in reality full time Train Operators earn £55,000.
The Times and other Tory propoganda rags claimed that drivers are on £100k, yet the reality is that just nine specialist drivers, who operate various stocks on lines across the network earn that amount which includes benefits and pension cintributiins, whilst the majority of drivers, 4000 of us, earn an annual salary which is nearly half that amount.
Why does the media attack us?
Have you ever heard the saying ‘attack is the best form of defense’? When working class people earn a decent wage the bosses see it as a threat to their profit. The Tory press is the mouthpiece of the bosses, and so they seek to undermine and attack us first to protect their own interests.
Just as they see us as a threat to them, their greatest fear is that other working people will look to us and recognise that being in a union means better wages and conditions. This is why the Tory press seek to divide us, to try and prevent us organising and unifying again them.
What about the nurses?
The Tory press often cite nurses wages when claiming that our pay is too high, but have you ever seen then state that nurses should be paid more? They never do because the truth is they don't want nurses paid more money. What the bosses want is all working people on a low wage so they can keep more of the wealth working people create in profit for themselves. Driving down the wage of public sector workers means the bosses get to pay less to have a functioning society even though it is essential for keeping them rich.
The way to increase nurses pay is simple. Pay them more money! We just need to be in a position to make that decision. It all comes down to a choice, do we pay workers a fair wage or can bosses have all the money? At the moment the bosses are in charge and keep the fruits of our classes’ labour for themselves, but if we organise we can change that.
What can we do within our unions?
Our unions should take the opportunity to be a part of this debate and highlight the reality of our uneven economy, which sees tube workers such as cleaners and CSAs on a low wage, and tube bosses earning bonuses of six figures. The Tory press don't want to recognise these issues because they are the mouthpiece of the highly paid bosses who benefit from this inequality. Therefore, we should take the opportunity to raise these issues ourselves using the attention the recent nonsense story about tube driver pay has created.
This is Tubeworker's plan for what our unions could be doing :
Have a clear message and use social media, newsletters, websites, interviews etc to ensure our voices are heard.
Be honest about the train drivers wage and at the same time highlight the wage of lowest paid workers on the tube and the grotesque pay of our bosses.
Get members and the public to recognise why the tory press attacks us.
highlight that as trade unionists we want other low paid workers paid more and that this goal can be achieved by being in a trade union.
use the opportunity to highlight the low pay and mistreatment of many workers on LU such as cleaners and csa2s, and change the debate to the question ‘why isnt the Tory press talking about this inequality?’