Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

World Cup Wreckers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

World Cup Wreckers

Article excerpt

In open court A towering issue IF BOB CROW'S rail workers ever enjoyed any public support for their action over pay, they have lost it now.

In what is turning out to be a spectacular public relations disaster for the RMT union, staff are promising to strike for 24 hours from 1pm next Tuesday, when England play Sweden in the World Cup. Just as most fans had planned an evening at home supporting the national team, the RMT is deliberately trying to ruin it for them. The union has hardly enjoyed a reputation for public-spiritedness at the best of times, but this latest threat takes narrow self-interest to a whole new level.

As if that were not enough, the second strike is planned for Sunday 25 June, when England could be playing the first match of the knockout stages. As our report today makes clear, commuters who pay large sums for their season tickets feel cheated as well as insulted by strikers who want to destroy what should be a great night. It is unlikely that many will blame management.

Staff may have a right to strike, but the dispute over pay has been running for months and it is the union that has chosen the 20th, of all days, to start its action. In fact, the offer on the table includes not unreasonable above-inflation increases for a 35-hour week - something travellers forced to watch the England-Sweden game in the office or not at all will find irritating beyond words.

Already support from the strike is looking limited, with the TSSA union voting against it. It is time that Douglas Alexander, the Transport Secretary, used his influence to get the union to drop its wrecking tactics on what should be a day of collective support for the England side.

HARRIET HARMAN, the constitutional affairs minister, has unveiled a set of proposals for wideranging reforms to the coroners' courts of England.

One element of the Government's draft Bill is far more controversial than the rest. It is to restrict press reporting of inquests, particularly in cases of child deaths and certain suicides. Indeed, the press could actually be banned from coroners' courts if the subject of an inquest is a matter of personal sensitivity or national security. …

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