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Old Crow from the archives

I think pretty much everything in my RMT piece from last summer still applies today.

Note in particular: 1) Low turnout and non-spectacular majority indicating this is a Crow effort not grassroots; 2) Tories using the RMT’s intransigence to lobby for (even) more draconian public sector anti-strike rules; 3) DLR, Thameslink, Overground are all working (as would be ELL, extended Thameslink and Crossrail, if they were built yet); 4) absolutely no support from Aslef and TSSA, leaving many Tube lines running too; 5) reports of RMT drivers blacklegging.

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  1. Tom
    June 11, 2009 at 11:40 pm | #1

    "Meanwhile in Germany, union leaders have traditionally behaved like the ‘knighthood-chasers’, working co-operatively with companies to maximise efficiency and share the benefits. As a result, Germany still has a great deal of highly skilled domestic manufacturing industry employing a great many people."

    Odd to read pre-credit crunch stuff like this – obviously German industry is suffering more partly because they had more left to lose.

    I understand from asking around that ASLEF have successfully negotiated Boris/TfL down from the five year deal (sort of a medium-term no strike agreement) to a two year deal without apparent difficulties or threatening strikes. Boris still hasn't met them, though, which means he's talking bollocks about the only block to talking to the unions being strike action – clearly he doesn't feel it's worth his time talking to them either way.

    Of course, ASLEF disliked the RMT anyway, and presumably Crow's efforts won't help this, as from ASLEF's point of view they were on their way to getting what they wanted without a fuss.

  2. June 12, 2009 at 8:24 am | #2

    John, you write

    “(it’s not a coincidence that France’s manufacturing industry is far more automated than Japan’s)”

    Are you sure about that? I don’t know much about the Japanese auto industry, but this claims that in 2004, Japan produced 10,799,659 vehicles with 750,000 employees (including supply chain), whereas France produced 3,549,008 vehicles with 304,000 workers (including supply chain). I would have though the increase in Japanese productivity (14 vs. 12 vehicles per worker) was associated with a higher level of automation in Japan. Or have I missed something?

    Further, you write:

    “British union leaders traditionally behaved like Crow. As a result of this antagonistic relationship, companies sought to replace their workforce with machines, foreigners employed abroad, and foreigners employed here. As a result of that, although plenty of British-designed goods are still manufactured, many by British companies and quite a few in the UK, manufacturing employment is at its lowest since the Industrial Revolution. And so is union membership…
    Meanwhile in Germany, union leaders have traditionally behaved like the ‘knighthood-chasers’, working co-operatively with companies to maximise efficiency and share the benefits. As a result, Germany still has a great deal of highly skilled domestic manufacturing industry employing a great many people.”
    It seems to me this is the other way round: independently of union behaviour, companies are going to go for increased automation and increased productivity.

    [I am not an economist, so if what I've written above is just stupid, please just ignore it]

  3. June 12, 2009 at 8:26 am | #3

    Sorry, link contains extra quotation mark – I'll try again.
    http://oica.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/oica-d

  4. June 12, 2009 at 9:03 am | #4

    It's a "remembered from management textbook" "fact" so may be wrong, but I've definitely been told by Serious Credible People that French factories are more automated than Japanese or German ones – ie the French ones use robots to replace skilled workers, while the Japanese and German ones use high-tech machine tools operated by skilled workers. I'll dig around in the literature and see if I can find anyone serious making the same claim.

  5. dsquared
    June 12, 2009 at 6:02 pm | #5

    The "shoddy" aspect of Bob Crow's behaviour appears to be that future generations of LT employees will not enjoy the same good jobs which exist today, but which ex hypothesi wouldn't exist anyway today if it weren't for the efforts of Bob Crow.

    I'm not really seeing this alternate reality in which twenty years from now there are lots of jobs behind ticket windows (and *good* jobs as well, just not quite as good as current LT employees have it). I'm not sure it would be a good idea if it were possible.

  6. June 12, 2009 at 8:30 pm | #6

    The point isn't so much the ticket windows, as the train driving and signalling – the skilled manual work, much of which will be eliminated within 20 years, much of which doesn't need to be.

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