Dear Bob Crow


As tempted as I am to unleash a tirade upon your union for turning my usually easy journey home into an expedition of Crusoeian proportions last night, I shall restrain myself. Instead, I’ll attempt to show you and your striking union members that the advent of the Oyster Card is to be celebrated, not used as an excuse for disrupting my tube-ride home.

Now, Bob, since the introduction of the Oyster Card, the proportion of journeys using a traditional ticket has fallen to one in twenty. It seems obvious that fewer tickets sold means fewer ticket office staff needed. Indeed, Transport for London has identified eight hundred jobs that no longer need performing.

Yet this is where you climb atop your soapbox, dust off your megaphone and shout “workers of the world unite”, taking to your picket to fiercely defend your conception of your members’ interests. “Whilst the jobs no loner need doing”, you decry, “it is a great evil that the employer should even think of not employing workers to perform them”.

And this is where we disagree, or, rather, where you are wrong. Yes the Oyster Card has rendered eight hundred of the jobs your members were performing redundant. However, the resulting redundancies free up labour that can then be used producing more of the goodies that me and you both enjoy. As the former ticket officers start new jobs, we’ll have just as much tube travel as before (thanks to the Oyster card) in addition to whatever the former ticket office staff now produce. In short, we will have more stuff. We will have become richer!

Try to understand, Bob, I don’t lack sympathy for the workers whom may be without jobs for a while. Rather, I recognise that everyone (including they) will benefit if they move from work done cheaper by technology into work better performed by people. Of course, this requires such jobs being available for them to move into, a more likely scenario in the vibrant free market economy you never quite seem to endorse.

Now, in fairness to you Bob, it’s not only your Rail Maritime and Transport Union that doesn’t understand the economics underlying your strike action. If you could forward this to the head of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association I’d be most grateful. More importantly, though, could your guys get back to work before my journey home later?