current affairs

The UK needs more trade leaders like Bob Crow

The sudden passing of RMT Union Leader Bob Crow has shaken the world of organised labour and the wider political sphere.

The sudden passing of RMT Union Leader Bob Crow has shaken the world of organised labour and the wider political sphere. Many people question whether the world still needs people like Crow, and indeed the Trade Union movement as a whole is an aging dinosaur, still lumbering around long after it should have gone extinct.

The newspapers queue up around the block to denounce any group of striking workers and even the Labour Party, created to provide a voice for working-class people, takes steps to distance itself from them.

Against this back-drop of negativity the question rises – do we still need the Trade Unions and leaders like Bob Crow?

The answer is yes, perhaps more than ever.

An essential value

The newspapers go on about the “Squeezed Middle,” as though there aren’t millions of hard-working people in this country who aren’t stuck at the bottom of the pile.

There are three million people in this country earning below the living wage.  Many of them are working two or three jobs. Those are the lucky ones. The problem of underemployment is one that rarely makes the news. People want the hours, but the jobs simply aren’t there.

These people are not lazy, they’re not trying to play the system. They’re the products of it—the supermarket workers (such as myself), the cleaners, the truck drivers and the countless other jobs out there that don’t pay a fortune.

All these people are of more social value to our country than an army of analysts, consultants and special advisors.

The Unions are demonised for going on strike – but what do people expect?  Tube drivers aren’t walking out simply to annoy the commuters of London. They’re doing it to support the ticket office staff who risk losing their jobs.

The tube drivers have one of the best paying “working class” jobs in the country and this is thanks to the work of Bob Crow and the other RMT union officials who campaign tirelessly.

Other Unions are not as competent, but many workers across the public and private sectors only get pay rises because of the negotiations they participate in.

Speak up

Are these always the best pay rises in the world? Absolutely not. Our last pay rise was 2.1 per cent. That works out at about 14p an hour. It’s not going to buy me a Ferrari but I’m grateful for the new extra quid a month.

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t blame people for moaning when their journeys are delayed by industrial action. I would also be lying if I said I’d never muttered under my breath when industrial action has affected my plans. But it is necessary to ensure a better deal for many people who would otherwise be barely earning minimum wage.

Some people, mainly those working in the budget stores which don’t have Union Representation, only get a pay rise when the minimum wage is raised by the state. 

This is clearly an unacceptable state of affairs. We don’t need less leaders like Bob Crow, working men not afraid to speak their mind. We need far more.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.