The new film Three and Out is a comedy about a London Underground driver who suffers two “one unders” — people throwing themselves under his train — and then deliberately goes for a third in order to get a pay off. Here a Workers’ Liberty member who drives trains on the mainline and was previously a Tube driver, and experienced a “one under” himself, responds.
In 2001, when the woman threw herself under my train, I had no warning it was going to happen. She threw herself on the tracks, then changed her mind and tried to climb up, but couldn’t. She didn’t die, but was smashed up pretty badly. Apparently she was a serial “one under”, which is pretty depressing. I was off work for four weeks, and had to have counselling.
Lots of people can’t drive again after this happens. So in addition to our sympathy for the desperate individuals who do this, you should remember that many drivers lose their livelihood too. The whole thing is also highly traumatising for station staff, and of course for the cleaners who have to clean up afterwards.
One unders are surprisingly common. According to Aslef, last year 249 drivers got down from their cabs to find a corpse on the tracks. Some drivers will have more than one, others will work forty years without any kind of incident at all. It’s just luck.
So I’m pretty pissed off about this film, as I imagine the families of those who’ve committed suicide in this way are too. And London Underground were complicit! They provide facilities for the filming, and have allowed posters all over the Tube. Management have since put out a statement dissociating themselves from the film, but that didn’t stop them helping it be made!
It’s just nonsense that you get a big payment for three one unders. Some people have more than three and keep working; others will have to leave their job after one incident. They’ve made up this payment in order to be able to attack drivers in the film.
If you were one of those middle-class people who thought that workers are all council scum, workshy, scheming — and that Tube workers are a load of lazy gits, always striking, money for nothing — this would be right up your street. And I suppose that’s who it’s aimed at.
Driving a Tube is an incredibly boring, monotonous job. If drivers sometimes don’t seem very friendly to passengers, it’s because they’ve got an awful job to do, keeping their concentration in the tunnels for long periods of time.
This is a silly film, but one element of it is an attack on a particular section of workers — and a relatively well organised and militant section at that. What group of people will be under fire next?