Diary of a Tube worker: When women drivers avoid the messroom

Submitted by AWL on 16 November, 2021 - 6:33 Author: Jay Dawkey
Tube train

“She was alright... you’d never know that was his daughter, would you?”. I am not sure what I have walked into as I step into the mess room at the start of my shift.

D adds “Yeah, but you look at who we have now and it is no one even worth looking at”. I look round at the group of men in their 50s and think I probably know what this conversation is. I am fairly sure I don’t want to.

“Yeah, dolly bird, big tits, face like a slapped arse down the other end”. “Oh yeah, I know the one, she won’t even smile at you, though”, K adds.

“Let’s not do this”, I suggest. “There really is no reason for you to speak about anyone like that, particularly if it’s someone we work with.” D comes in again: “They are on stations” [i.e. not drivers]. That doesn’t make it any better, I think.

K comes back: “You aren’t interested, are you? That’s why you don’t want this chat. Oh well, we all best shut up then”. I roll my eyes and suggest if anyone wonders why some of the women drivers never eat in the mess room when there is a group of men in there.

The conversation moves on while I get a cup of tea. “When are the union going to ask us all about whether we can do overtime? I don’t see why we don’t have the opportunity to do it when other grades can”. “You want to be careful what you wish for”, W says when he comes in. “On the buses we got overtime in and then the jobs started going, they rely on it in the end. It helps them really, not us.”

D says: “And ultimately you can put forward that we take a vote on it, but you have to come to the branch and do it. And a lot of us are guilty about not actually putting up what we talk about here. I wanted the condensed four-day week, but people that didn’t won that argument because they turned up and put something forward.”

People mumble and pick up their bags and go off to pick up trains. W says: “Every year people ask the same thing but no one puts it forward. Maybe this year will be the one…”

• Jay Dawkey is a driver on London Underground

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