At around six this morning I joined the picket line at Finsbury Park station. It was still dark, and the men and women on strike were gossiping about who might scab. I asked a slightly official looking woman if she was in charge. “We’re all in charge she replied, we’re all RMT.”
Picket lines can sometimes be grim affairs, but the mood here was boisterous and banterous. Some of the strikers unsuccessfully petitioned the on duty manager for some plastic cups. Unusually for a picket line, nearly everyone pitched in to leaflet the travelling public.
I asked one of the more vocal picketers for an interview. “It’s more than my jobsworth” he told me, a worrying statement to hear in a democracy. But then, as luck would have it legendary regional organiser Steve Hedley turned up, and spoke to me about the strike.
It might seem like a bit of an exaggeration for Steve to say that Goebbels seems to be running the TFL propaganda department, but the some of the things coming out of TFL were genuinely ridiculous, as they attempted to deny the success of the strike. I met several passengers who were shocked by the locked gates at Finsbury, having been told by TFL that the station was open. Passengers’ welfare, it seems, is less of a priority for TFL than showing that they are beating the strikes.
Passengers for their part seemed, on the whole, very unlike the embittered yuppies who always get interviewed on TV during transport strikes. Quite a few were openly sympathetic, and many took leaflets. Perhaps ITV could come and talk to people at Finsbury Park at not Green Park once in a while.
So far, the disruption appears to be far greater than it was during the strike two weeks ago, with the vast majority of workers withdrawing their labour. As a picketer put it to me “people have learned to say no”. With the coalition planning to savage public services, we will all soon need to take a leaf out of their books.