Tube strike: your free Metro is spreading myths to discredit the strike

Daily Mail-owned commuter rag implies strike is about holidays. It isn't.


The free morning newspaper Metro, read by commuters in London and elsewhere, has packed more myths about today’s tube strike into a few sentences than seems possible.

Today’s headline reads:

Commuter fury at strikers with 52 days holiday

Metro tube strike 6 8 15

Holiday time is a big part of the coverage of this strike – including in the Telegraphthe Expressand the Daily Mail (which shares an owner with the Metro).

It appears to have been raised by Boris Johnson to discredit the strike, and his pals in the right-wing press have helpfully caught his drift.

A few points on the Metro story blazing out of free papers across the capital:

1. Train staff are not striking over holiday time. 

Today’s strike is the latest in a series of strikes (the last was a month ago) over changes in the terms of train staff’s employment. Primarily, they are concerned that people who already work through the night and on weekends will have to accept more late shifts with the introduction of 24 hour tube services in September.

They are also opposing cuts to staff at stations, which they say will damage the service for commuters, and reject a crumbs-from-the-table offer on pay increases in an economy we are told is ‘growing’.

2. Not all train staff have 52 days holiday

There is a tendency to see what train staff with the best pay and conditions are receiving and take this as representative of all train staff, from drivers to cleaners. Interestingly, this method is never applied to other businesses.

Perhaps this is because in many industries the idea of the best and worst paid workers uniting in an act of solidarity is hard to imagine.

3. Not all tube staff are drivers – most earn nothing like £50,000

See point 2. Many tube workers earn less than half of this figure. Still you’ll see it bandied about everywhere.

4. If you want more holiday time or pay, join or form a trade union

52 days a year? £50,000 salary? Everyone should be so lucky! Instead of begrudging train staff, why not organise and demand this for yourselves and your colleagues?

There is a larger issue worth noticing. The Metro recently published a full page advert from Transport for London putting their side of the story. They then interviewed miffed commuters, presumably with questions like: ‘Do you think it’s right that tube drivers on £50k should strike?’

The answers were as predictable as they could have hoped. (And if they weren’t, the paper could have simply picked the ones they liked.) So there’s your ‘commuter fury’. 

The other element worth noticing is the large showbiz story dominating the same front page today, not surprising perhaps from a paper owned by the Daily Mail group. The cult of celebrity – effectively veneration of aristocracy – is ever present in papers that bash trade unions.

Viscount Rothermere
Mail boss Viscount Rothermere: not your friend

Such is the position of elite institutions like media companies (where only a select few get to work) posing as the carrier of the voice of the ordinary person, in this case against the bully train unions.

This fake populism from a media group headed by a tax-dodging Viscount is a handy cover for turning working people against one another. ‘Why have these greedy train drivers got more than me? My day has been disrupted by their selfishness’ etc.

Meanwhile, relatively democratic institutions like trade unions, which have a far better claim to speak for ‘ordinary people’, are denied their chance to state their case, and denounced – indirectly – by a newspaper that pretends to be your friend.

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

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Read more: 

Anti-union press wants train staff to act like robots. But who is the real bully here?

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

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16 Responses to “Tube strike: your free Metro is spreading myths to discredit the strike”

  1. Selohesra

    Aus 29-6 – these strikers will become heroes for those ‘working from home’ today

  2. TN

    Adam, is your only purpose on here to navel gaze parts of the media you don’t like for being so mean and nasty lol? Try commuting in London, relying on the Tube. Stop playing dumb as Londoners don’t need you wet leftists (and centre leftists) telling them how to think. This strike is based on causing trouble and is based on greed. The RMT is crossing the line.

  3. Z

    You’re on a website called left foot forward. I suggest you go back to the Daily Mail or Daily Express comments section, we don’t want your tripe here.

  4. Graham Lester George

    I don’t know what you do for a living Adam, but unless you were born into wealth and privilege, then any employment rights and the rate of pay that you have, will be because people – union members – either took strike action to win them, or they were negotiated for by union representatives. Make no mistake, your employers want to reduce your conditions and your pay, and they will if they can get away with it. The whole raison d’être of capitalism is to buy low and sell high. You’re labour is one of the things that they buy.

  5. Sylar

    Make a sentence out of the following words. Bike, your, on.

  6. Ben A

    please fuck off


    Both you and The Metro are annoying. Don’t believe either of you.

  8. stevep

    In a nutshell. Thank you.

  9. Noel Fogarty

    Station get 52 days because they work extra hours per week over their contracts which adds up to 15 days a year. The 52 days also includes all bank holidays. Also, tube station are told when to take their holiday. You are ‘allocated’ weeks of the year to take – if they don’t suit you can try and swap but if you can’t then it’s tough!

  10. Mo

    ” tube staff are told when to take their holiday.”

    Rather like teachers and many other people who don’t earn £50k per year

  11. Mo

    Sack the strikers.

  12. Noel Fogarty

    Yes but their holiday doesn’t change every year and they get every weekend off so if you have a wedding/christening/bar mitzvah to attend at the end of the year you don’t have to worry about getting it off

  13. Mike Jay

    That’s right you tell TN. We don’t want any of that freedom of speech here.

  14. Giles Farthing

    Never mind all those self employed or pubs and restaurants losing business. Never mind about all those needing an ambulance police or firebrigade but because of the grid lock they take too long. As long as the greedy rmt get more money.
    Any of you leftards that say they got to 52k a year because they are in a union and they deserve it can sod off. These people are bullies and extorionists. They need no qualifications they go on a short course to push a lever back and forward. How is that worth double a soldier or a nurse or a bus driver. They don’t even steer it. They are bullies and they use hard working londoners as pawns in their game and stupid apologists like Adam think it’s right. Clearly Adam doesn’t have a proper job. Doesn’t commute or even live on this planet

  15. Giles Farthing

    Adams only purpose is to right leftist rubbish in the vein hope that one day he gets a job at the guardian. You know that highly principled left news paper. That’s it the one with the offshore assets in the cayman islands that doesn’t pay tax in the UK. And even then they are hemoraging cash faster than Adam can fap over a signed corbyn photo. So it will be bust before they notice his rubbish

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