Monday, 28 November 2011

Strike while the iron is hot

Most of the public sector unions are on strike on Wednesday, it seems.

Their beef, apparently, is that they are losing out on their pension. As the husband of a public sector worker, I understand this concern, and I agree with it. I’ve always been a private sector worker, and our pensions were sacrificed and flushed down the toilet years ago, while we all sat back and accepted it. Ultimately, she will have to work longer, pay more, and get less pension at the end of it. One of those, the government might have got away with. All three is a bit much.

However, I can also report that Mrs B won’t be on strike on Wednesday. That’s because she’s not in a union. She left, for a variety of reasons.

* The price, £14 a month, which is extortionate – my union manages to charge all it’s full time members £8.80, incidentally.

* She recently had some concerns, and went to discuss these with a union rep. She couldn’t find one. The contact she had went to an answerphone, and when she rang it, a recorded message said ‘Please don’t ring this number for union matters’ – or words to that effect. Remember, £14 a month, and she couldn’t find a rep.

* The union insisted on sending out a load of Labour party literature with its magazine, praising this particular political party. She doesn’t rate any of the parties, but least of all Labour. She had also indicated she didn’t want to donate to the party via her subs.

* The final straw came with the union rallies earlier this year, with reports of a senior rep from one of the local branch offices heading to protest about austerity cuts. In First Class. With a nice meal. Clearly austerity measures aren’t affecting this particular union, remembering the subs of £14.

So she left this particular union. And as she’s not found a replacement, she still has no representation. Which is a bit sad, really. Seems to me that the traditional, Labour party, TUC affiliated unions aren’t too bothered about the minor but important things that affect their members, but have decided to crank up for a strike to prove to the Government that they won’t be pushed around. Seems to me that they need to sort out their priorities.

There seems to be a lot of propaganda put about, but there is no doubt that the Government have changed the terms they are offering, since the original strike ballots, and it also appears that the unions are refusing to discuss the new offers. That’s my impression, and that’s why I reckon they are just after causing a strike for striking sake, so they can all pat each other on the back afterwards for a job well done, while their members are all a day’s wages short, and the pension plans are still going to happen.

What these unions haven’t grasped, then, is that it’s not 1979 anymore, it’s 2011, and the world has moved on. Grown up people sit down and discuss their problems like adults, and I’d suggest these dinosaurs all do the same.

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