Before the 2012 Olympics there was a campaign to persuade workers to stay home.
The campaign was effective and the result a revelation. Even with a huge influx of visitors, London was so slick many of the pop-ups established on the assumption of gridlock went bust.
This was aided by companies backing a programme of home-working, with IT departments tasked to deliver connectivity to their remote employees.
That glorious summer of 2012 was a sneak preview of the future. It worked and it was wonderful.
And it can’t come again soon enough for, say, the residents of Brighton who were once happy to spend a couple of hours on a train to secure their weekend by the sea.
Now, they are flicking through tech magazines looking for the next breakthrough in VR that will bring office bantz to their breakfast bar.
Once more the workers of London, upon whom the promise of Global Britain is built, have become cannon fodder in strikes that are – as Mayor Sadiq Khan diagnosed before he gained City Hall – “a sign of failure”.
Once more commuters trudge needlessly through London’s rainy streets consulting travel planners to reach a job they could do twice as efficiently and four times as comfortably in the second bedroom.
Meanwhile, transport unions are conjuring disputes out of thin air knowing full well they hold the keys to the capital’s productivity.
Who can blame them? They have the power. Their members can turn on the tap for more bonuses, down-days and concessions every time TfL buys a new broom for Balham or suggests a second sweet shop at Stratford.
Last week the Central line closed because of “forced displacement of staff”. Sounds like something President Trump might do at the US border but it turns out people were asked to work in a different place to where they worked previously.
In other words, what normal people do all the time without protest because they’re grown-ups in a grown-up world.
London commuters are time and again bargaining chips in silly spats. Unions argue their stoppages are also for passengers’ sake and safety but, hey, we’re doing fine, thanks guys. Just drive the bloody train.
As the City fights to keep its blue chip corporates post-Brexit, as London looks to project an image of a world trading hub, the abuse of its workforce is an embarrassing indicator of petty, backwater parochialism.
The treatment of commuters is a disgrace. If legislation is what it takes to stop the strikes, then let’s get going (for once).
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