THE BLOG

Admit It - The Worst Part About the Tube Strike Is Feeling Green With Envy

05/08/2015 10:48 BST | Updated 05/08/2016 10:59 BST

There's a lot of reasons to hate the Tube strike which takes place in London over the next day or so.

Yes, it's a business blocker. Yes, it involves planning new journeys between work and home. Yes, it's a massive pain in the backside. There's a lot of reasons to hate anything if you try hard enough.

But every time there's a Tube strike, Londoners seem to find their Dunkirk spirit. We put hate to one side and dig deep. We repeatedly hear of amusing commutes, we see funny viral images and memes popping up all over the place. People talk to each other. The world always keeps turning and when the strike stops we return to work with not much changed. Keep calm and carry on.

This resilience and levity is something we need to remember to in the build-up to yet another strike.

There's a lot of reasons, serious, legitimate and convincing ones, to both agree and disagree with striking Tube workers. Yet there's always an emotion underpinning the thoughts of non-Tube staff: Envy.

Envy is a bad thing. The dictionary definition is 'a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.'

There are a lot of reasons to feel envy towards Tube workers. Today's envy seems to focus on the fact that that drivers get 43 days holiday while station staff get 52. The outrage dampens slightly when you realise this has been the case for more than 10 years.

But if we constantly compare ourselves to others, or judge our lives by theirs then we're doomed, aren't we?

Take some Virgin staff. Last year Sir Richard Branson asked: 'Flexible working has revolutionised how, where and when we all do our jobs. So, if working nine to five no longer applies, then why should strict annual leave (vacation) policies?'

The result? His personal staff can now take as much holiday as they bloody well like. No approval is needed. I'm pretty envious of that.

We don't know how Tube staff use their holiday. They could be contributing to society in remarkable and unsung ways we've never imagined. They could be sitting on the sofa in their pyjamas watching Cash In The Attic or binging on Netflix. It's really none of our business how they use the time which has been skilfully negotiated by their unions.

During the last strike this piece by HuffPost UK blogger Seb Michnowicz who is a train driver and member of ASLEF, went absolutely viral.

In the piece he wrote:

'Drivers on national rail have always worked night shifts - usually a tranche of them every few weeks. The biggest difficulty is trying to get enough sleep during the daytime.

'A blindfold or blackout curtains are a necessity. Earplugs are needed to drown out noise from the outside world (worse luck if there are builders next door) and it's always best to unplug the phone and take the batteries out of doorbell.

'These things aren't always possible and don't always work. Invariably, some disturbance interrupts sleep. Those working night shift generally lose between one and four hours sleep each day.

'Sleep loss is cumulative and, after a few night shifts, fatigue can impair decision-making, initiative, ability to process information and vigilance - all things a train driver needs to maintain at an optimal level in order to maintain the professional standards the job demands.

'Worryingly, effects of sleep loss are generally not recognised by the individual until the fatigue becomes severe - sometimes too late to prevent an operating incident. Is this really what TfL want for the Underground?'

Feeling relaxed and energised is vital for productive working and enhanced decision making, but it's something we definitely don't value as much as we should. Instead we suffer long working hours and a collective martyr complex. We love to tell people just how blinking hard we work.

Reading this blog post in a non-partisan way you could argue there's a very valid point being made. Are Tube strikers work-shy fopps, hungry for holiday, while doing very little? Probably not.

It seems odd, when so many of us complain about being overworked and underpaid, that we hate a group of staff who we accuse of being underworked and overpaid we all turn on them. Perhaps they deserve a round of applause.

So tomorrow, as you walk/cycle to work, or work from home or just take a day of annual leave to do what the hell you like, try not to hate. Admit you'd bloody love to have as much holiday as Tube workers and it's that which really annoys you about the strike.