Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boris Should Do a Murdoch and Clip Bob Crow's Wings

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boris Should Do a Murdoch and Clip Bob Crow's Wings

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Blackhurst City Editor

SO far, so good for the Government as it attempts to bring down the deficit. There haven't been mass protests, we've not been treated to Greek and French-style manning of the barricades and blockades. Not yet.

That's the abiding fear of ministers as the impact of the cuts begins to be felt. The ingredients are already in place for chaos and worse.

Animosity towards bankers and big business is running high and may go higher and then there's the unions, newly emboldened and galvanised by tougher leaders.

They're beginning to call for strikes and industrial action. Among the more militant is Bob Crow. Sure enough, Crow, the RMT leader, is calling for resistance similar to that being displayed on the streets of Paris.

Crow is a talismanic figure, possessed of formidable power. Not only is he able to carry the overwhelming majority of his membership but, as the transport chief, he can bring vital economic arteries to a grinding halt. And he knows that. He's also been unafraid to demonstrate his prowess, regardless of the disruption and misery he causes, especially on London Underground.

One and two-day strikes on the Tube have become the norm of late, angering many of the 3.4 million passengers who depend on the service each weekday. The chances of more of the same occurring on the Underground network over the next few months must be high.

Perhaps, though, this is also the moment for Boris Johnson and his Underground managers to play hardball.

They will no doubt have watched how Saturday's walkout by London firefighters was handled. And next Monday, they will be able to observe again as the fire crews conduct the second of their one-day stoppages.

The Fire Authority entered into a five-year, [pounds sterling]9 million contract last year with private firm AssetCo to provide London with a contingency level of fire and rescue services if firefighters were not available, specifically, in the event of severe pandemic illness, industrial action, natural disaster or catastrophic incident. …

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