The Sun won’t tell you why train staff are striking. So we will

A nasty smear on workers as the Sun fails to provide balance


The Sun newspaper has published a nasty smear against train and London Underground staff set to strike later today.

What you won’t find in the story is why staff are striking. So we’ll tell you what the Sun won’t.

But first, the coverage.

The Sun’s story, Feud Tube: Strike ‘sour grapes’, consists of transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin accusing the unions – RMT, Unite, Aslef and TSSA – of striking simply because they are sorry the Tories won the general election.

If the unions had a stinging response to McLoughlin’s wild accusation, you won’t find it in the Sun. Its story has no quote or response from the unions, any train or tube staff, or anyone sympathetic to their position, either to respond or to say why they are striking.

Here’s what the story does say:

“Ministers plan to ban walkouts unless backed by 40 percent of those eligible to vote.

Some 20,000 Tube staff strike [sic] from 6.30pm over all-night services starting in September.

They have snubbed a two percent offer plus £2,000 for drivers.”

‘Snubbed’? How rude of them!

As it happens, this strike received 90 percent support from members of all four unions, with a turnout of more than 50 percent. Not that you’d know it from reading the Sun. 

The Sun says editorial, titled Rail Wreckers, tells us:

“Unions have a right to protest. But it is time they were prevented from closing down essential services and making life misery [sic] for millions at the drop of a hat.”

So, they can protest, but not strike – i.e. employ the only negotiating tool they have, the ability to withdraw their labour.

So says the newspaper of the working class!

Here’s what the Sun won’t tell you. Tube staff are being asked to work extra hours at night and on weekends when the tube switches to 24 hour services in September.

The unions say staff already work seven-day, 24 hour shifts, and seek assurances this will not fall on people already working nights and weekends.

They also want a modest pay rise (much smaller than, say, the £7,000 a year MPs are set to receive) and oppose staff cuts at stations, which they say will provide a poor service to the public.

You can read more on their reasons here and here.

But not in the Sun. 

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more: 

Never mind the unions. What about the Sun’s influence on the Labour leadership contest?

Tory press takes the side of the bosses with its anti-union bias

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31 Responses to “The Sun won’t tell you why train staff are striking. So we will”

  1. Selohesra

    The strikes just accelerate the time when we have driverless trains & far fewer people employed in the industry Much of the technology already with us & each strike increases the support amongst the majority of commuters – does anyone know the last year we managed to get by without a rail or tube strike?

  2. WilliamSSharp

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  3. Charlatans

    Jeez…… how can I get one of these jobs? Anyone know?

    Tube drivers at the top of the salary scale are currently paid £49,673 a year. That’s thanks to a multi-year deal the unions struck to keep pay for their members’ salaries above inflation. But they also only work a 36-hour week and have 43 days of leave, according to London

    Retired now from my little tea rooms me and family owned, after 25 years in the Army on £17,000 pa – but this sort of salary beats us in our cafe into a cocked hat – and we shared less than the total amount these Drivers each get between us three – and we all work never less than 60 hours a week – and we only close Christmas day and average 2 days off a month.

    Are you sure these little greedy excuses are the real reason for the strike? Must be some mistake – something you not telling us!

  4. JoeDM

    Pure greed.

  5. stevep

    The Sun has been anti-union ever since it sacked it`s unionised staff under draconian Tory union legislation in the early 1980`s. It then ensconced itself behind razor-wire compounds in Wapping and proceeded to vilify anything left of Thatcher whilst simultaneously promoting various right-wing agendas and notions.
    It`s still much the same today.


    It would be madness and dangerous to have driverless trains in the Tube. The DLR is fine as most of it is above ground. The drivers are entitled to a decent wage.

  7. Charlatans

    You mean dangerous like the elevated, speedy one at Gatwick between North and South Terminal which has been operating without drivers for over 20 years without mishap?


    So who deals with accidents or loonie tune bombers. I would prefer to have a trained driver on the Tube. Seems to me you are a selfish fuck me I am all right Jack type of person.

  9. Cole

    Seems like you’re changing the subject – which is the usual lies and distortions The Sun – the voice of the ruling class.

  10. blarg1987

    I hope the Sun is being challenged on its story by the complaints commission and be forced to print a retraction.

  11. Harold

    Focus on what you get not what others earn. Higher wages are a good policy, it is shocking how low wages are in the UK, yet we take it lying down. Many years ago working class could aspire to reasonably paid jobs in industry or other similar employment, but that has nearly all gone. Now it is low pay, no union and no prospects, we should defend employees with good wages and conditions, so that we can aim for it as well, just think how would anyone benefit from Tube Train Drivers on minimum wage?

  12. Charlatans

    Harold, thanks for the advice that I should focus on what I earn and thanks also for rubbing my nose in it by telling me I should not aspire to the high earnings of these greedy RMT strikers.

    Why you say that? Was it because I was self employed without having the muscle to cause so much disruption to the likes of these greedy drivers who are stopping my son and daughter getting home from work tonight and having to lose a days pay tomorrow, because cannot get to work for example?

  13. Charlatans

    James, it is also people like me, who spent 25 years in the military also deal with the loonie tune bombers big time.

    Especially when Blair and his spinners decide to radicalise half of the Middle East and millions of Muslims in this country..

    Thanks for calling me a selfish f***k, “I am all right Jack type of person.”

    You must be a real saint. God bless you.

  14. Inthedark

    Just to add some actual fact to a lot of this misinformation. The unions are striking mainly for a better work/life balance. That’s the sticking point which hasn’t been entertained by tfl at all. The so called 2% pay offer is actually a 1% plus £500 bonus. Driver’s do benefit from good conditions but at the expense of their personal lives. The night tube and new working patterns will only make this worse! I know this frustrates commuters and understandably so but this is the last resort to get any sort of response from tfl.

  15. T

    How much of your 17k per annum went towards rent or mortgage payments? Or did you just forget to mention that the Army housed you and your family while you served?

    You sound like a f*c*i*g hater/idiot. You probably don’t even take the tube.

    As an ex military man, you also forgot to mention that London Underground did more for ex service men and women than anyone else by offering many of them jobs as tube drivers when they came home to nothing after fighting for their country.

    How much food shopping did you pay for with your £17k? What does the army not pay for when ur serving? And did you even pay any tax on that? On the scheme of things you seem to be much better paid than tube drivers.

  16. JeremyEHayes


  17. TN

    If I knew I could earn near to 50k being a train driver on the Underground, I’d pack up my own job for that. Some people can only dream of earning that much. The RMT have been agitating for too long and it’s about time this so called ‘sensible’ left wing blog stops defending each and every aspect of union activity. There are ordinary commuters affected by this as well, just because some whingers want to hold London to ransom once more. The crybabies need to suck it up.

  18. Selohesra

    Sorry – had forgotten leftards could not cope with two thoughts at the same time

  19. Simon Saunders

    I find it mildly ironic that the sort of person who might use the word “leftard” tends to write as though someone’s smashed them in the head repeatedly with a brick.

  20. Simon Saunders

    The reason they earn reasonable money is *because* they agitate you forelock-tugging craven. Maybe if you made an effort to organise your own workplace rather than whine impotently about others who have done so then you too could remove the management ball gag from your mouth.

  21. Simon Saunders

    How are they greedy, precisely? Because they leverage their workplace power to maximise their wages and (in this particular case, as you seem not to have read the article) defend their working conditions against management attacks?

    Newsflash, that’s what you’re supposed to do within capitalism. Did you deliberately charge as little as humanly possible for a cup of tea, or did you try and maximise your profit base within the logic of your local market?

  22. Kathryn

    “If I knew I could earn near to 50k being a train driver on the Underground, I’d pack up my own job for that.”

    You are absolutely free to do that. What’s stopping you, exactly?

  23. Kathryn

    Most places advertise jobs on their websites these days. I’d try there first.

  24. Charlatans

    T ?? Hmm you really trying to hide from me? You wrong on everything you write, plus you want to then call me a f*c*i*g etc etc

    I do not wish to correspond with cowardly anonymous pillocks. Goodbye!

  25. stevep

    Driverless trains, robots running workplaces, computers replacing office staff. Where will all the jobs be then?
    When the wealthy elite have no further use for us, will we all be scroungers?
    Thank goodness for our Unions and collectivity. At least we want to build a better world for people to live and work in.

  26. RB2

    you think the tube driver would ‘deal with’ a bomber? complete nonsense

  27. Harold

    My apologies I did not mean it in such a personal way, though I do strongly feel personal responsibility is important, if your Cafe becomes wildly successful you should take the credit, if it fails then you once again should be responsible. I have re-read and I am sure I did not suggest you or anyone else should not aspire to the Tube Drivers wages, indeed I asked the question how reducing their wages would benefit anyone? I trust your Cafe has a great summer1

  28. Charlatans

    This Youtube is a bit cheeky –

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  30. Ken

    Maybe because he is not up to it?

  31. Ken

    You are correct, Charlatans is an idiot. The tube drivers get the best possible deal by defending their conditions and withdrawing their labour when management attack them. It is a pity more workforces are not like them then we might have better conditions and wages for workers.

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