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

Sign up for our weekly email by clicking here.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.