The rail strikes set to “paralyse the country” this week were always inevitable, says Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph. The unions never wanted to settle – not, that is, unless they secured “total victory”. The dispute isn’t really about money: the median pay of train drivers is well above that of nurses, teachers, and even some doctors; the average income for other railway workers is comparable with plenty of graduate professions. Nor is it about forced job losses. The number of staff who have applied for voluntary redundancy is apparently higher than the number of jobs Network Rail wants to cut. No, this is just “an undisguised struggle for political power”.
The irony is that it’s lower-income workers, the very people the unions claim they represent, who’ll be hit hardest. The well-off professionals who can work from home will just go back to doing that, “probably quite contentedly”. The millions who can’t – nurses, cleaners, teachers, caretakers and so on – will be unable to work at all. “Where is the class war logic in this?” The truth is that unions are “relics of a bygone era”. Gone is the old idea of working-class solidarity, and the political power unions used to wield thanks to their unwavering alliance with the Labour Party. Today, their belligerence comes across as “not only obviously self-serving and gratuitous but out of touch with the times”.