Like many thousands of people who live in Enfield, I rely on London’s extensive public transport network to travel to work in Central London each day and I am alarmed to hear that RMT/TSSA have announced plans for more strikes on 3 October, 2 November and 28 November – the first of which suspiciously coincides with the Conservative Party conference.
Millions of people across London are struggling to cope with the impact of the negative financial legacy left by the last government and even the loss of a day’s income could have a disastrous effect on the household finances for some of the most vulnerable in our borough in the run-up to Christmas.
Bob Crow and the RMT have tried to trick the people of London into believing that these strikes are in the interests of public safety, but it is clear that this strategy has failed; a ComRes poll published this Monday (20 September) shows that 65% of Londoners oppose these strikes confirming overwhelming public opposition. The public are not being protected by these militant unions, but are being held to ransom by them.
In the Council meeting that took place on Wednesday 22 September, I seconded Cllr Mike Rye OBE’s proposed motion calling on the Council to write to union leaders making it clear that Enfield does not support these strikes, a motion that we hoped the Labour administration would support.
However, their close links to the unions (nearly half of the Labour members had to declare an interest for being members of unions potentially connected in some way with the strikes) ensured that our attempts were thwarted.
Whilst – after a lively debate – a compromise was reached on a motion encouraging both Transport for London and the Unions to negotiate in good faith to find a resolution, it is clear that the administration is out of touch with public opinion and minded to put their loyalty to the unions before the needs of the people of Enfield.
The fragile economic recovery engineered by the new Coalition government is under threat if we allow the union militancy that blighted much of the 1970s and 1980s to go unchecked and the Opposition group remain strongly opposed to the planned strike action, which is unjustified and unwelcome.
At the end of my speech in the chamber I implored the Labour administration to show solidarity not with the unions that support and fund them, but with the people of Enfield who elected them and who need them to operate in their best interests in these difficult economic times.
On this attempt, we were not able to convince them to put the needs of the people of Enfield before their desire to please their comrades in the unions, but I’d like to reassure our residents that we will continue to fight hard in their interests – the people of Enfield cannot afford this strike and it is pity that their council doesn’t agree.