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February 10, 2006



Good idea, but before that I suggest tube strikes are carried out in the following way;

Instead of not turning up, the tube staff turn up on the day, but simply open the ticket barriers, allowing everyone to travel for free. This achieves the goal of the traditional strike (hitting the management in the pockets) but acheives a further goal as well, namely gaining massive amounts of public sympathy. There would need to be an informal agreement with the Transport Police not to punish customers for fare evasion on that day, as even if they wanted to pay they couldn't, but otherwise I can't see a problem.

Chris Applegate

The Tube isn't innovative? Alright, so vandalism-proof Maglev trains that always work and come every 30 seconds are unlikely to ever occur, but the Tube has attempted innovation at other levels - e.g. the Oystercard (with mixed results), or the (disastrous) attempt at moving-block signalling on the Jubilee line.

Whil the Tube's record at innovation is somewhat poor, there still exists the potential to do so. Off the top of my head, there are still many possible improvements in working practices (the ongoing heavy influence of the unions suggests that working practices at LU are probably quite outdated) or pricing systems (e.g as London becomes less centralised, should the zonal fare system still apply?)

Co-ops aren't necessarily ill-suited to innovation either - at a micro level the co-op system is quite amenable to the sort of worker-led innovation in processes and practices that the Toyota Production System has pioneered; the macro level is where it gets trickier, though.

The Pedant-General

I struggle also with the democratic election of managers. Managerial competence, for all that it seems to be the one metric upon which our politicians seems to want to present themselves, is not in the least co-incident with the public relations skills required to get elected.

Does JLP elect its managers? I somehow doubt it. It has a graduate/management entry programme like any other major retailer. It's just that the set of shareholders and the set of employees are identical.

Quite how it works at the very top of the greasy pole I don't know, but you are unlikely to vote into the top levels (who could set the balance between pay and safety/hours for example) someone from outside the upper levels of the middle management who didn't have a grasp of running a business of that size. It would be a disaster.

Or am I completely hidebound?


Dear God, someone younger than me has read Upton Sinclair? Wonders never etc.

Rob Read

Love the Quote. One to remember.

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