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LETTER from a weary commuter in support of strike action


Dear Mrs May,

I am tired. I am not writing to inform you of my moods, but rather to let you know what the press won't. Many of us commuters fully support the current strikes.

Here's why. I support TfL and Southern Rail in their strike action against your government. Despite major fare rises in recent years, your government has refused to increase staff pay or improve their working conditions. TfL jobs and services have been axed ruthlessly and offices shut costing countless jobs and affecting the lives of many. What did you expect? 

Perhaps you and Mr Cameron before you knew full well this would cause mayhem. A keen observer could be forgiven for thinking so. Particularly as members of your cabinet have been caught saying they wish to 'break' unions.

Is the public really foolish enough to misunderstand why striking is a legal right? Have we forgotten what has been gained through trade unionist activism?

The right to strike is not 'objectionable' or 'selfish', as we endlessly read and hear in soundbites from newspapers and from the Transport secretary. It is enshrined in law because it is the only way the workers at the bottom of the heap in any organisation can remind their managers and the wider public that they are vital to the smooth running of the social and economic machine. We never seem to read headlines reminding us how much unionised workers contribute to the economy, but the purported 'cost' of strikes is endlessly cited. Indeed, if my Mum had stopped cooking dinners when I lived at home as a teenager, it may have 'cost' me a meal, but I might have done well to recognise how vital her cooking was most days of the year. Labelling her actions as 'selfish' and demanding she return to the stove would have been nothing short of hideous. Your government should not stoop to this behaviour.

Striking is not egocentric. It is simply withholding something that others take for granted, while asking for reasonable recognition, monetary or otherwise. I do not want my tube driver to be worrying where their next meal is coming from or when their job may be axed. I want them valued and focused.

As for trade unions, they are not troublemaking, rabble-rousing zealots. Thanks to trade unions, most Britons enjoy holidays and safe working conditions. Where does anyone think weekends came from? The kindness of employers' hearts? The government? Not a single pay scale or paid holiday was enshrined without union representation. And our newspapers do little else but photograph leaders stepping into their cars or taking a holiday. How juvenile.

Yet weary, I am. Sitting on a bus hoping to get home to my children, sore from chronic fatigue syndrome. Everything aches and I miss the kids. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Pay these people properly, Mrs May. And stop axing services. London needs more well-qualified staff to grow our economy.

Yours,

D Kelly
A weary commuter

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