Willesden Green, St John's Wood, Finchley Road, Dollis Hill, Kilburn, West Hampstead and Swiss Cottage stations will in all likelihood be closed from 7pm tonight, as RMT affiliated staff go on strike for 24 hours. Staff claim LUL have failed to react to complaints about bullying and intimidation. Yes, yes, we know. It seems as though the RMT are always going out on strike and Bob Crow is rapidly gaining (or has he gained?) the mantle of most annoying man in London.
We initially threw up our hands and swore at what the Standard's reporting as a "five year old dispute". Holding bloody grudges, we thought. Totally unjustified, we thought. When will the RMT stop holding the capital's public transport system to ransom, we thought.
And then we dug a bit further. The 'five year old dispute' seems to relate to averted Christmas strikes from 2004,
when RMT members complained about harrassment from a manager at the Greenwich depot. While the RMT's statement doesn't name names, it does mention a manager who "was moved from another location after similar complaints" and does link to Standard articles from the time (subtle, guys). The implication is pretty clear: they're alleging that the same man has continued to ignore "attendance and disciplinary procedures" at this group of stations.
This dispute is clearly quite complicated and we're surprised it's been allowed to get to this stage. We also think Londoners would have more sympathy with the staff and their situation if we now weren't conditioned to see the words 'RMT' and 'strike', tut and move on. Have they never heard of keeping their powder dry?
TfL say they'll do their best to keep the stations open, but perhaps they'd be better off spending some time developing decent HR policies around dispute resolution.