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Do strikes work?

10:50 UK time, Tuesday, 7 September 2010

London and various cities in France faced disruption on Tuesday as unions striked over government austerity measures. Do you agree with striking?

In London, millions of commuters struggled to and from work as most services on the Underground were suspended or delayed. The unions are fighting plans to cut ticket office staffing levels, claiming security could be compromised for passengers.

A spate of strikes are also expected across the UK from public sector workers over pay and pensions cuts, while travellers are likely to face severe disruption from strike action by BA cabin crew this Christmas. Public sector workers in France are protesting against plans to rise the retirement age.

Do you agree with the unions? Are strikes the best way to dispute the cuts? Are the austerity measures necessary?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Depends on the reason, I think most people would have sympathy over striking because of massive job losses, pay cuts etc, but no-ones gonna back you for striking over a change in uniform or losing your already generous perks (BA staff take note!) These are tough times, if the changes don't fundamentally effect the way you do your job & are renumerated for it, or your safety then suck it up, everyone else has to! There are just too many strikes for idiot reasons these days. It seems to be a fall back position when people aren't getting what they want. There is also a growing resentment in the private sector, where unfairness & bad treatment in the workplace is rife but striking just isn't an option. For example & to use an industry that I know well, Retail has changed drastically over the last few years. No day is sacred anymore, staff (particularly management) are expected to make themselves available pretty much 24/7 (anyone who's ever worked the "Next" sale or a "Debenhams" megaday event will know what I mean) Bank Holidays no longer exist, you work up to right up to xmas eve & are back in on boxing day often early in the morning (7.30am for me last year). O/T is unheard of & lieu for extra hours worked is hard to obtain, sick pay has gone the way of the dinosaur & the restrictions on what time you can & can't have off are ridiculous, added to this the pay is, in most cases, terrible & is in no way reasonable considering the amount of work required. Yet striking is just not an option. "If you don't like it get out" is the usual response. So I did! It amuses me no end when the public sector babies I now work with complain about having to do the odd extra hour or work a saturday, they don't know they're born!

  • Comment number 2.

    No strikes do not work as they only hurt one person or another. Practically everyone in the country is taking hits on the disasterous state of our economy. People have to realise that there is no option but to bare it until we get stronger. Striking will only harm the economy further and make recovery harder.

    The political left are not interested in today, next year or even in our lifetimes they are only interested in gaining power through social upheaval. It is evident that the current union leaders are carbon copies of the '60s, '70s and '80s "comrades" that led us to the financial and social abyss.

  • Comment number 3.

    Maybe the RMT will mature into a union that holds revenue strikes.

    A revenue strike means everyone comes into work, services run as usual, but no money is collected. It's used in parts of Europe to great effect and does not needlessly inconvenience ordinary people.

    I have nothing against unions having power, but I am against irresponsible union management. Bob could look after the interests of his members better by not trying to demonstrate that deunionising or getting driverless trains is a good idea.

  • Comment number 4.

    Furthermore, why not contact the RMT yourself, instead of posting here:

    Think you can't inconvenience the RMT? Think again.

  • Comment number 5.

    If their objective is to alienate customers then Yes, they do.

    I don't fly with BA anymore.

  • Comment number 6.

    How do the unions propose to deal with the deficit, caused by the Labour Party which they support?

  • Comment number 7.

    No doubt Londoners and the people who have to use the Tube will be complaining.

    I would point out that everyone has a right to withdraw their labour and fight against a bad employer or his edicts from upon high.

  • Comment number 8.

    As for the question, is it the best way to resolve the issues?

    Clearly it is not, but as the Tube Management will not sit down and discuss alternatives to there proposed cuts, then the Union and the Members have no choice.

    Maybe this will make them sit down and talk, at least that way the issues will be discussed and perhaps resolved.

    No one wins out of a strike, not the Unions and certainly not the Employees.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'd say, think twice before going on strike as the strike pay the union pays you is a pittance. Working-to-rule is just as effective.

  • Comment number 10.

    i have never understood unions or what they achieve by striking. If a company cannot afford to pay a 3% pay increase but offer 1.5% increase, unions casue an uproar, then a stike occurs. The company still cannot afford the 3% so only option is to reduce the workforce to reduce cash output and be in a financial position to offer higher than 1.5% - bad example but its a no brainer, if an organisation offers to save jobs but without increase in wages for its workforce, they dont just produce magic beans when the union gets involved. striking will always no matter what be detremental for employees. You couldnt pay me to be in a union, i have enough savvy and intelligence to fight my own corner and not be taken for a mug.

  • Comment number 11.

    It'll be a repeat of what happened with British Airways.
    Most people will have sympathy with the strikers if the grievance is genuine. But as soon as the strikes start and Joe Public is inconvenienced, then that sympathy rapidly evaporates.

    I don't agree with the tube strikes, these employees are well paid; they are greedy and trying to hold us to ransom. I hope London Transport starve them into submission. Tube tickets are way too expensive as it is.

  • Comment number 12.

    Going on strike in the middle of a recession has to be just about the mokst stupid thing anyone could do. It merely shows the disdain that public sector 'workers' and (in the UK) transport 'workers' have for the people that pay their wages.

  • Comment number 13.

    What works is a commitment to partnership. This would require workers and employers to sit down together in joint councils to discuss business plans, working practices and policy; no-strike agreements coupled with compulsory arbitration; in the private sector profit sharing and share options for employees and groups of employees. Not "workers' democracy", not communism, not a load of bureaucracy, but a commitment to actually make things work for mutual benefit.

  • Comment number 14.

    Employers should be forced to sign employees to long contracts (5 years +) then there wouldn't be any need for unions. Employers should also not be allowed to shed staff unless they can prove beyond a doubt that not shedding them will make the business fail i.e there wont be enough money to pay everyone, profits for that year are 0 and no shareholders get dividends.
    Shedding staff just so you can hit your projected profit margin for the year is immoral and tantamount to treating humans as disposable drones.

    Business Security before Employees
    Employees Pay before Shareholders
    Employees Pay before Profits

    There might be a new government in power, but there always is. Ever noticed how nothing really ever changes. Its because the current trio, no matter what nonsense they espouse, like things just the way they are.

  • Comment number 15.

    All strikes boil down to one thing......more money for the strikers. I don't have much sympathy.

  • Comment number 16.

    Confused HYS conflating many seperate issues.

    Do strikes work ? Yes, having the ultimate sanction to withdraw one's labour and to hit the economic bottom line of a nation or a corporation is sometimes the only way to make decision makers take note. In a world dominated by multi national power blocs and capitalist consensus amongst the ruling classes, group action on behalf of the working class is as relevant now as it has always been.

    Do I agree with the RMT action, no I dont think I do. The issue they are striking on seems confused to me. There will apparently be no effect on health and safety and seems a natural consequence of accepting the oyster card introduction.

    There are many ways to fight the conservative ideological rollback of the state. I dont actually think strikes are part of that. They are instead a way to fight the consequences, one of the few ways worker's consigned to the scrap heap to fight back.

  • Comment number 17.

    YES sure!
    It worked for the steel workers
    it worked for the ship builders
    It worked for the Miners
    It worked at British Leyland
    It worked for Liverpool Docks ,as with many industries on Merseyside and Tyneside.

    The only people strikes give benefit and excuses to are the Bosses.

    Strikes drive away investment ,are only welcomed by your competition. it away or makes your customer look elsewhere.

    What is the point of wrecking jobs ? A job as a "value" and the "value" might fluctuate. Employer and employee must go with the good times and bad times together.

    Those who strike might consider tying to get another job, before putting their own job at risk . How much is job seekers allowance?

  • Comment number 18.

    Although I do not agree with strikes being the first and only response, I do believe that they can be an effective mechanism if all else fails. Given the gung ho approach by this Laurel & Hardy government to the public sector, this may be the ultimate way of demonstrating that many in the public sector do actually provide a good service!

  • Comment number 19.

    Strikes are important - without them workers can do nothing to defend themselves against an ever more grasping, thieving, domineering elite. The strikes have my full support. Yes they will cause damage, but there is more potential for future good. The ruling elite are bang out of order - they have declared war upon the people, and they will lose!

  • Comment number 20.

    What a silly question BBC - if they didn't work - they wouldn't happen.

    Having said that I have absolutely no sympathy for the tube workers - in case they haven't noticed there is a recession going on you know.

  • Comment number 21.

    Do they work?

    Occasionally. If up against a weak or timorous management.

    Would I strike, for any reason?

    Not a chance. Not even to save my own job or pension. While all the idiots are waving their silly placards, I would be looking for another job. I have crossed picket lines in the past and would do so without a second thought. How dare some gang of left wing rowdies dictate to me what I will and will not do.

    Do I have any sympathy with strikers?

    Nope. Never have, never will. I'd see them all discharged, especially train and tube drivers. The knowledge that we are being held to ransom by the greed of a few power crazed militants is maddening.

    But what really incenses me is the trite sanctimoniousness of union members seeking to justify their reason for striking. "We're striking because we care about your safety."

    Oh shut up and get back to work.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Strikes are allways the last resort today, But they have NO choice, I wish them all the very best!!!! one must fight the forces of big {world wide} business, or no one will have any rights!!! the very rich people in power in the U.K. will treat every one like surfs' Again, The Government is punishing our much needed workers, for the mistakes' of They friends "The Greedy bankers'" Every job the government will cut young familys and small children will suffer, in every part of the U.K. Will see familys Homeless and unemployment will increase 70% in some places' in Wales.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yes strikes work. Or they can do in certain circumstances.

    Especialy when the High Court have already ruled that the Brstish govenment has acted unlawfully when they attempted to change terms of the civil service compensation scheme. And yet the government continues with more of the same regardless.

  • Comment number 24.

    Without commenting on the individual merits or otherwise of a dispute ,it seems that there are certain unions such as the RMT and FBU whose first port of call appears to be down tools and strike, or at the very least threaten to do so.
    Other unions do not behave in the same way,for example the Royal College of Nursing,voluntarily has a no strike agreement and since its formation in 1916 has never called a strike. Other nursing unions such as Unison and the RCM have similarly creditable track records.
    This does not prevent them from being effective and supportive negotiating bodies. The terms of Agenda for Change reflect well on this constructive approach to industrial relations.

  • Comment number 25.

    To give a blanket approval of unions and austerity measures is impossible. Each case has to be looked at in detail. I am in favour of the LU strike because safety measures are involved and safety comes before anything. I am not in favour of the BA staff proposed strikes; here I think both sides show an unwillingness to compromise and do not have the passengers interests in mind. I plan to travel at Christmas and sadly will not risk booking on BA.

  • Comment number 26.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 27.

    Yes I do believe in strikes as they are the best way for workers to tackle big business.

    As far as the strikes in London are concerned, I would rather see the action more targeted, striking so only the bankers in the city would be affected. This could easily be done by closing all tube stations in and around the city.

  • Comment number 28.

    Do you agree with the unions?

    No. Few are now starving due to employers’ wickedness and the Unions were counterproductively ruining British industry from the 1960s forward by raising costs above our global competitors.

    Are strikes the best way to dispute the cuts?

    The cuts were introduced by the duly elected government. It is not the Unions place to dispute that decision in a running rearguard minority action harmful to the country as a whole.

    Are the austerity measures necessary?

    O not at all. We can happily live forever on Labour’s £815bn national debt paying 10% of all our taxes in interest payments.

  • Comment number 29.

    Striking is a massive inconvenience for anyone who uses the serice affected by the strike.

    It is also a hardship on the strikers, who will often lose out financially when they strike.

    However, it's hard to see what other effective power a worker can exert over his employer to try to get better terms other than withdrawal of labour.

    Often it seems that the public are judging strikers based on the press' reportage of the contested terms which led to the strike - some strikers are reported as asking for well above their industry average (e.g. BA cabin crew) and others as being very reasoneable in their requests (LU employees rejecting an 'insulting offer of below inflation').

    I am a nurse, on the few occasions historically when nurses have threatened strike action we have always been well supported by the public but I ask myself whether this is because the public perception is that nurses always ask for very reasoneable pay rises or because nursing is seen as an area which generates a lot of bad PR for the person (or government) denying the pay rise.

    So do strikes work ? I suspect it depends on how good your PR is.

    Incidentally, in spite of the 'insulting' nature of a below inflation pay rise for those LU workers, how wold they like my pay freeze and likely loss of pension rights ?

  • Comment number 30.

    Good old unions, really have to hand it to them. Mind you the members are just as bad. Let's continue paying ourselves more than we can afford, let's continue importing vast amounts of cheap imports, let's continue going on foreign holidays and let's continue believing everything is rosy. Wake up you morons and realise that there are 6 billion people out there most of whom will do your job for a lot less, and most of us don't care where stuff comes from - just as long as it is cheap and we can over-stuff our houses with things we don't need. Who said the 60's is over

  • Comment number 31.

    Speaking as a union rep of many years experience - and thus having more experience of this sort of thing than most other posters will - what they usually do is force management to come back to the negotiation table and reopen talks and a compromise will eventually be reached. Unions never get all they ask for but are generally happy with a compromise agreement. That's the way life works. And no, austerity measures are not necessary. In a world where so much tax is lost via avoidance it would make more sense to deal with that. Why cut millions when you can bring in billions?

  • Comment number 32.

    There are levels to this. One is whether the cuts are the correct way to deal with the economic situation per se. There are many 'experts' that argue that they are too deep and too harsh and that the result will be further recession. For no reason I can quantify I suspect that they are right, perhaps Osborne and the Tories simply do not inspire my trust in this matter.

    The second is whether the application of those cuts is correct and equitable and demonstrably free of corruption, coercion and other mis-management. Any of us that have ever worked in the public sector are not going to be easily convinced that the myriad reviews going on are actually going to result in the right cuts or the fairest cuts. I see no reason why people should not strike against that management failure.

    There is little clear logic to the answers that will come out. One man's waste in another's necessity. It is perfectly reasonable to strike as a way of engaging in the debate about cuts especially when it is your job that may be cut. Management are not behaving in some cold logical manner here, their first instinct is to protect their own interests so no reason why the worker should not do the same and if striking is their option so they should strike.

    It is worth remembering that the union movement and the strike are held in disdain because of a short period of excess in the 70's but generally they served to improve the lot of the working person and made citizens out of slaves. Don't throw it away.

  • Comment number 33.

    The old saying of divide and rule comes to mind which employers use ruthlessly.To withdraw your labour has to be an option for any workforce because you cannot trust government or private industry to be reasonable,especially these days. Its a sad state of affairs but that is the way all labour forces have been treated for hundreds of years. As to whether strikes work,no I dont think they do. They used to if the workforce had the same power over the employer but the more vindictive unions used that power for their own ends which turned public opinion against them.What the workers should remember is the ability to work and sustain that work comes from being vigilant all the time and especially when thinking that voting a Tory government in would bring them prosperity.History tells you otherwise.

  • Comment number 34.

    I don't think one can say whether strikes in general work. It depends upon the unions and companies involved and the specific reason for any given strike.

    The purpose of a strike should be, in my opinion, to highlight a *gross* injustice towards workers by a company. When that's clearly the case, the strikers will often get public support and anger will be directed towards the company.

    However when that's not the case, the public usually directs their anger towards the union and its strikers. Although companies often lose money during strikes it is usually the public that suffers the most.

    Strike action is sometimes taken far too soon and over matters that are far too trivial. It should always be a very last resort and undertaken over severe issues only. Strikes should also be considered in the context of the economic climate and the company's financial state: there is no point striking for more money if the company simply doesn't have it for example.

  • Comment number 35.

    Who can blame them.The vast majority of the population are unaware of the true effects of "Private Bank" led austerity.Why should all this money have been used to keep insolvent,private,supposedly regulated,banks going.Their debts are toxic,whoever buys them or whichever balance sheet they appear on they are worthless.Why did the British public bail out private banks,any business that is insolvent has failed.Why has no failed Politician,failed Regulator,failed Bank Chief been in court.Over 200% of GDP has been borrowed,a debt our Politicians refuse to discuss in lucid terms,it is to big to ever be paid back,the interest alone will destroy the living standards of generations,the lifestyles of millions and the hopes and aspirations of a nation.With interest rates so low,printing money to keep things going because the reserves are not there,manipulating the price of Gold and Silver and the Stock Market so "Confidence" isn,t dented.Confidence in what,a system that has totally failed.With the outflows in pension funds how long before private pension payouts are cut by 50%,property prices fall by 50%,the majority of wages are cut by another 10,20 or 30%.The only way out of all this mess inflation and the hyperinflation to flatten the debts,how do you get that in the current economy,you print money because its all you have left to do.The people are marching because they know what games the Politicians and Central Banks have been up to and they know they will pay the cost,their futures have been stolen to keep the system and the super wealthy from paying the cost of the losses they should have incurred.

  • Comment number 36.

    Once again the unions and Bob Crow play the safety card frankly this won’t wash the union is not responsible for safety and if the rail regulator and HSE is happy with the plans then so be it.

    Of cause stations should not be unmanned but there are no plans to do that. it just means staff will not be able to hide away in their ticket offices and will have to get off their backsides and work the platforms etc BOO HOO.

  • Comment number 37.

    Strikes only work if they have the support of the public or, at the very least, the issues at stake are clear and the strikers point of view can be seen and understood even is the majority do not agree with it. It's here, in my opinion, that the RMT fall over quite spectacularly. Far, far too often they've gone on strike over issues that should never have resulted in strike action and, when they do so, they distort the facts of the matter. In this particular case, no compulsory redundancies are coming, safety is utterly irrelevant to the discussion (and, indeed, Bob Crow barely mentions safety in his justification speech to the RMT) and the RMT is deliberately muddying the waters with regards volunteer workers.

    Basically, as far as the London Underground goes, enough is enough. Too often the entire city is held to ransom by a group that earns a very high wage for the job they're performing and who enjoy very good conditions (again, for the job they're doing). The harsh fact is the tube has to make sense economically and changes are going to have to happen. No sector, no business is immune from job losses and the RMT MUST start to realise this or loose the little sympathy they have left.

    All that said, I do want to thank those who are genuinely trying to help today. Thanks for not forgetting your fellow Londoners and I hope everyone who talks to you today remembers that you're on our side.

  • Comment number 38.

    Strikes are sadly often necessary, to stop governments and big business from treating workers with contempt.

    Strikes will become more commonplace in this country, once the ConDem's ideologically-driven cuts start to bite, and hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs.

  • Comment number 39.

    I guess it depends totally upon your politics as to whether you feel this is acceptable when the private sector has been so squeezed in recent years.

    Public sector employees 'defending front line services' are never going to be popular, even when they may have a valid point, as they risk smacking too much of 'naked self interest' disguised as 'anti austerity strikes'.

    However a bloated public sector strike with Civil Servants (Up 200,000 under New Labour) and the Local Government/NHS/Quango public sectors (Up over 1.5 million under New Labour), defending their own perks and pensions by holding the rest of us to ransom and making those of us who actually pay for the services suffer, is totally indefensible.

    The truth is that the money tree ran dry under New Labour and we just can't afford to pay for all these public sector jobs.

    NB: The 'sacred cow' of the cost of the NHS is one of the reasons, but no one can suggest that it be reformed so the cuts fall disproportionately harshly elsewhere.

  • Comment number 40.

    If the strikes are for legitimate reasons of major job losses, pay cuts etc. then yes, they are justified.

    Unfortunately they are not backed by the public anymore as most people, especially HYS'ers just care about how the strike will affect them, not how the changes are affecting hundreds who are being forced to strike.

  • Comment number 41.

    The question has to be asked - Do these people live in the real world? Employees in the private sector have had to accept changes to pension contributions and benefits over the last few years, even before the recession kicked in. Now the public sector is facing the same measures and as usual all they can do is whinge and have hissy fits because the poor little things are being victimised.
    Union leaders should be personally held responsible for any disruption caused to the public as this is a case of our human right to go about our daily business being breached. If they want to set up barricades and picket lines I sincerely hope that they are broken up with the same ferocity as the Miners were in the early 1980s.

  • Comment number 42.

    Your very lucky you can still strike in Britain, as it has all the signs of a one party state for the supper rich run by bankers stock brokers and proped-up by high-end Tory MP.s looking after them (as you can see today on BBC news). And taking in to account the new type of police you have in place NOW i'd watch you step on the picket-lines!!! One further thing... This is the biggest banking HIST in British financal history and most of you have fallen for it! "PAIN" Pay more TAX and GET less! Oh' And where's the MILLIONS in Iceland gone that should have NEVER been put there in the first place by your NICE council?

  • Comment number 43.

    In the circumstances, I think the strikers are right. We have a government nobody wanted, but they seem to think that gives them the right to ignore virtually every economist on the planet and put millions out of work because "that's what Tories do". How on Earth any Lib-Dem can be supporting this, I can't imagine. They must have very different beliefs to the old Liberals. Perhaps they should rename themselves again - "New Conservative" seems appropriate. Thatcher would love this - a spot of good old union bashing!

  • Comment number 44.

    It's the only weapon sometimes that the ordinary working person has to defend themselves against the tyranny of employers. Take the current financial position, the overpaid hierarchy in most companies (in particular banks)are making people redundant, yet their corporate spending, bonuses, exorbitant salaries carry on unabated. In smaller companies they begrudge paying the minimum wage, yet their exotic holidays, flash cars and playground excesses continues as if nothing happened. Every time the rich and ruling classes get the urge to put the ordinary person in their place, they engineer a recession. At some point in time, the ordinary person needs to escalate from downing tools to revolt.

  • Comment number 45.

    There have always been tube and rail strikes in and around London. I remember trying to find hotel accommodation in London to counter the strikes in the early 80s (paid for by the taxpayer, as I was in HM Forces working on duty shifts at MOD). Nothing changes and people will always find something to gripe about that will give them a few days off!
    Our company (construction) is making mass redundancies, with over 150 in the past week alone. Nobody in the private sector cares about public sector workers' job security and/or the impact on staffing levels at stations (they are always overmanned!!). We in the private sector are doing our best to help our companies to survive and thereby stay employed.
    The over-blown, useless, under-achieving public sector will garner no sympathy from those of us who have had pay freezes for the past 2 years.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    I listened to a union official telling us that was for passenger safety.

    As a passenger, the union does not represent me or my views, nor is it responsible if an accident occurs. So the message is clear -

    Not in my name will you justify your typically politically motivated actions

  • Comment number 48.

    Whether the unions have a point or not, aggravating and inconveniencing the travelling public is not going to get them any support.

    If the unions believe that safety is being cut too far, I'm sure they have a case for legal action or HSE reviews. Since that isn't what they are doing, the inference is that they are more interested in hurting the company than helping passangers - namely that they are looking after themselves. Fine, that's what the unions are for, but don't expect automatic support from the people you are alienating the most!

  • Comment number 49.

    I agree with the right to strike (folks in the army don't have that option) but I comdemn the tube strikers for holding London hostage - if anyone loses their job because they can't get into work I hope they sue Bob Crow.

  • Comment number 50.

    Of course strikes work, if the employees and unions have the courage to take action at a time that causes the maximum amount of disruption/profit loss.
    It is the only weapon that workers have - and should, at all costs, be protected and preserved. Anyone who protests the right of working people to take industrial action is either a boss or a person lucky enough to find themselves employed by a decent organisation that treats its staff not just with the bare minimum of wages and rights dictated by law, but with the best possible terms and conditions.

  • Comment number 51.

    Not unless things are so bad you want to put yourself out of work.

  • Comment number 52.

    I imagine you should ask Arthur Scargill and Red Robbo AKA Derek Robinson( BMC/Rover Motor Co) if strikes work. In their day they were experts on the subject.
    Scargill did British Coal a favour not digging the coal no one wanted to buy and Red Robbo wrecked the Rover Motor co and its predecessors when he said Austin could sell every car it made and they should "have more" of the profit. That as I remember when the sight of fields at Coften behind the Austin were full of stored new cars. Some going red rusty had been there 2 years.
    Fat good all that episode did anyone. Look where those Business are today.

  • Comment number 53.

    As the opening post says 'it depends on the reason'. I would argue that the cuts have been imposed as part of an ideological commitment to create a society with minimal state apparatus and the erosion of the so-called welfare state. Now that is a position which you will find defended at length in many right wing publications. I have no problems with that, in a democracy all views should be tolerated.

    My problem is with the way this right wing programme is being implemented. We are told of a deficit crisis, somehow the credit crunch and banking was partly responsible, and so were naughty unthinking people who took out high mortgages in order to obtain homes, but now we are told that the cure for the deficit is cuts in pensions, education, jobs and wages. Well, that smacks of dishonesty. Let us have an election to discuss that.

    Equally dishonest is the complicity of the mainstream media in supporting the deficit scam. BBC is guilty here. So amusing to see BBC reporters and bloggers defending the deficit scam.

    Against dishonesty, against an ideological standpoint being ushered through the back door, against unnecessary cuts to living standards, I back the unions. But let us have more than strikes - and please strikers use imagination and try not to harm the weakest in society - let us have some kind of great refusal, do not support the government, the political parties, and those who seek to destroy the living standards of the people in this country.

    I suspect the usual range of anti union, anti left ranters will rush to the defence of the coalition, drawing attention to the massive rewards already showered on union members. One expects that. But see it as a softener for old style Victorian legislation aimed to destroy unions, strikers and ordinary working people. Defending the deficit scam, the coalition will do a Maggie on the unions, as would the Labour party if they were still in power. See if they win.

  • Comment number 54.

    "1. At 11:17am on 07 Sep 2010, RubbishGirl wrote:"

    Your post sums up perfectly why unions with the right to strike are so important. I highly suspect that the demise of union power in the private sector is partly what triggered such shabby treatment for retail staff.

  • Comment number 55.

    Public sector strikes have more possibility of suceeding as at the end of the day it is the taxpayer who picks up the cost if the employer gives in to the unions demand. Private sector strikes in the end are self defeating as ultimately strikes will destroy the business. We all know what happened to British Leyland, this actually was a great British Company with a great future, but when it was nationalised the unions kept going on Strike, and in the end destroyed it. We should have a car business to rival Peugeot or Citreon, but due to the unions we don't. You also have the ongoing British Airways dispute where the union seems to be hell bent on destroying the company, they may ultimately win their dispute, however they may have already caused terminal damage to the company as I certainly will never use them again, and I know loads of people who feel the same.

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm wondering if the moderators are on strike - only two comments passed in an hour.......

    The answer to the question however is it depends on whether you have the support of the public. As demonstrated by the total lack of support for the worlds highest paid waitresses earlier this year, I suspect most government workers will enjoy a similar amount of support from the public.

    Every year the firemen threaten a strike just before Guy Fawkes night (must be a vote about due now), with the postmen it is always before Xmas - do they really think we are so stupid we cannot see what they are up to?

    As for France, well isnt striking a national past-time?

  • Comment number 57.

    Yes they do, this country wouldn't have the liberal stance it has when it comes to fair pay and working conditions if it wasn't for unions and strikes in the past. The people have spoken.

    It's what got the working and lower middle classes through the Thatcher regime.

  • Comment number 58.

    5. At 11:38am on 07 Sep 2010, Richard Sweeney wrote:
    If their objective is to alienate customers then Yes, they do.

    I don't fly with BA anymore.


    Worth repeating!

  • Comment number 59.

    Simple - if you don't like the work/conditions/pay - LEAVE! Don't just mess it up for everyone else - that is ignorant & selfish!

    I would put any money down that if a union rep wanted an abulance because their kid was ill & the ambulances were on strike due to the shade of yellow on their jackets, said union rep would NOT be a happy bunny! Well all you '70s throwbacks - would you????

  • Comment number 60.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 61.

    No. If you are prepared to strike over the potential loss of 800 jobs (as a result of the financial crisis for which the previous government carries much blame), you had better come to the table with a well thought out alternative business plan for discussion. Only when discussions break down and arbitration has failed can you take further action. BA strikers prepared to bring the company to its knees leading to mass redundancies should be treated for self-harming. Striking because a co-worker has been sacked, well that is pure stupidity! Like any conflict, it can only be sorted by discussion.

  • Comment number 62.

    Strikes are about holding other people hostages for a material gain. They are about getting unfair advantage over other workers who are not in a position to take as many hostages.
    Strikes should be banned.

  • Comment number 63.

    Everyone has the right to withold their labour, it is the ultimate weapon any worker can use. Yes it is always preferably to solve issues by negotiations and both sides coming together in the middle. However, the day strikes are outlawed then we will be living in a dictatorship.

    Most ordinary working people feel that they have little or no power against big business or the government, therefore striking is often the only weapon left to us little people. We have no political power ... as the election result in May proves, no-one voted enough for any party to win outright but we certainly did not vote for a Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

    I have no sympathy for strikers who strike at the drop of the hat for union political reasons, as was the case often in late 60's and early 70's, but when someones job is on the line and their dignity then yes I back them 100%.

  • Comment number 64.

    If I go on strike for one week I would loose 2% of my annual income.

    So I go on strike for two weeks over a 3% pay rise? (and loose 4%!)

    That is economic madness.

    We had strikes in the 1960's & 70's because wages were low.

    And they had public support, not anymore.

    I read that when France went over to the euro all the waiters in Paris went on strike. The reason? Apparently the standard tip had been 10 francs, then it became 1 euro equivalent to 7 francs.

    Some people still think striking gets results.

    Someone should tell them.

    It never did.

  • Comment number 65.

    The problem back in the 70s, through to the miners' strike in the 80's, was that the unions had a political agenda.

    They were using workers' grievances, or plain greed, to obtain power which votes would never give them.

    That made the unions massively unpopular, and condemned Labour to years in opposition. Basically, most people in the UK, then as now, just loathe the far left.

    But nowadays, sure, let's have unions and strikes. The pendulum has swung. Those at the top are cossetted and overpaid, whilst the workers in the middle are increasingly in, as the French say, précarité, their conditions, wages and job security constantly under threat.

    We need to re-establish balance in our society. If we carry on as we are, we face civil unrest. Better a few strikes and demos now than major riots in the future.

    Before anyone on the left gets the idea that this will work in their favour, though....bear in mind that there is anger against employers, but also against public sector workers and immigrants. Careful what you wish for, because militancy might well be directed at you, or things you hold dear.

  • Comment number 66.

    The French striking about their pensions have my support ... we need to voice our opinions to our leaders more strongly too. Let politions and heads of business live on a pension that the average working man or woman does in this country and they will soon see what a poor living many pensioners have to put up with. How can it be right that millions of pensioners need state help (paltry though it is) with keeping themselves warm in the winter? It is a national disgrace when pensioners (and others) have to choose between food and heat, or food and clothes etc. There is enough money in this country to feed, clothe, and warm everyone well, but most of that money is in the bank accounts of a very few people - most of whom have no idea what living on less than £200 a week is like. We need to get the balance right in this country between getting sensibly paid for a good job done and getting multi-billions pay offs when you get it badly wrong. A rule for us and a rule for them.

  • Comment number 67.

    If we are employed, most of us have the ultimate sanction against our employers of withdrawing our labour. In a situation where successive governments, whether Newlabour or Tory/LibDem, continually ignore the majority view of the public, then widesperad strike action is one way we can make "our" governemnt do what we want. Forget the first-past-the-post and Alternate Vote loteries, this is real democracy and we are going to be seing a lot more of it.

  • Comment number 68.

    #6. At 11:39am on 07 Sep 2010, Alastair wrote:
    How do the unions propose to deal with the deficit, caused by the Labour Party which they support?


    The biggest part of the deficit was caused by the Banking industry, not the Labour party. There are also many members of a Union who are not Labour supporters.

    There are a lot of people on HYS who keep saying that the government doesn't listen to the voters. In the same vein I could say why doesn't the management of the transport companies concerned actually listen to the grievances of their workers instead of just getting their backs up. Also (as stated in the heading to this HYS that it is not only London that is affected by this strike, but cities in France as well. Is that also Labour's fault?

    I don't agree with strikes, but it takes two to tango, and needs both sides (management and unions) to actually listen and understand each others opinion.

  • Comment number 69.

    @2: "People have to realise that there is no option but to bare it until we get stronger."

    You can bare what you like Graham, but I'll be keeping my trousers on, recession or no recession. Or did you mean "bear it"?

  • Comment number 70.

    I think all the unions are achieving in London is the gradual automation of the whole system. Most tickets can now be purchased from a machine so the staff selling tickets have less to do. Likewise the DLR doesn't have any drivers at all. If I were in charge of TFL I'd be looking to see that all new tube trains introduced could be operated without a driver so the RMT cannot continue to keep bringing London to a standstill.

  • Comment number 71.

    In an ideal world every employer would be loyal to all their employees and there would be no need for Unions or striking. Unfortunatly we don't live in an ideal world.

    As to whether they work or not, I think it depends how well supported they are. There are plenty that have worked and caused the management to negotiate and rework their plans, and there are others that haven't usually because they aren't that well supported (or in the case of the miners the state becomes involved to overturn them).

    Personally I would like to see a new chapter in industrial relations. Rather than the current removal of labour strikes which cause disruption and misery to many innocent people, I think there should be some kind of United Employee Action whereby a company totals it's profits for the duration of the action and the money is given to say the National Health Service. This would in theory maintain workers right to object to employer decisions and thus force negotiation whilst at the same time not inconveniencing the general public and of course cutting the deficit! :-)

  • Comment number 72.

    Do Strikes work? In my experience, no. Take a look back in history and you can see what I mean. Shipbuilding, Car manufacture, Coal Mining, Dockers have all tried at some time and I wouldnt call the ultimate outcome a success.

    In this particular case I can see for myself what management are saying. I've commuted in and out of London for more than 40 years and have seen a lot of changes in that time. Oyster cards have made a massive change to the way people travel, they are convenient and easy to use and have most certainly changed the way people pay for their travel, hence the reduced need for ticket office staff. It's a fact of life that the unions will have to accept at some stage. I dont understand the "safety" issue. What "safety" does a ticket seller behind a glass screen offer to the travelling public? If the unions believe there is really an issue here why dont they take it up with the ORR - who are responsible for rail safety - and get a ruling from them? Thats what they have done over renewing manager safety permits that have expired and the ORR are satisfied with LU's actions. The unions have failed to justify their action as far as I am concerned, they have failed to explain why there is a safety issue.

  • Comment number 73.

    Strikes almost never work. “Industrial action” might ring an extra half percent out of a pay negotiation but for hourly paid workers – every day's pay lost to strike action is approximately a loss of half a percent of annual income. If you are on strike for two weeks you need a five percent rise just to break even the following year.
    Strikes also harm the employers business if they lose orders or customers because of the strike – it diminishes the probability and scale of pay increases next year.

    The most futile strikes of all are those that are a response to threatened job losses – these never work. The most classic case of this type of strike was the year long miners strike of 1984. Shortly after the miners went back to work – 95 percent of them were made redundant. The miners union would have been better employed negotiating good redundancy settlements.

    But strikes aren’t really about pay or job security – they are about union officials using their members as cannon fodder in a skirmish in the class war. Most union leaders are revolutionaries who want to change society - in reality they don’t care that much about their member’s welfare.

  • Comment number 74.

    5. At 11:38am on 07 Sep 2010, Richard Sweeney wrote:

    If their objective is to alienate customers then Yes, they do.

    I don't fly with BA anymore.

    15. At 11:47am on 07 Sep 2010, krokodil wrote:

    All strikes boil down to one thing......more money for the strikers. I don't have much sympathy.

    I'm fed up with people striking who have jobs that require little or no qualifications to do. they should be grateful that they HAVE a job in the current economy. Especially one that requires few qualifications.

    Train drivers and platform guards AND sky waitresses get paid a VERY good wage for what they do.

    At no point have i ever felt the plight of these strikers and been on their side. These strikes breed a lot of contempt, not for the companies but for the actual coal face workers; surely that affects their working conditions? the reduction of respect for these people?

    You've made your point but everyone hates you? the company/corporation has to make redundancies to make up some of the lost cash? if that's the plan then yes, striking works

  • Comment number 75.

    No it wont work. They should actually sack all the strikers. Unions seek to increase workers rights at the expense of a firms long term survival.

    The unions should be disbanded as they are out dated legacy from the 70's.

  • Comment number 76.

    Unions today are as useful and relavent as the Model T. The work world has significantly changed and as humans we must be willing to change and adapt to the new working environment. The only ones benefitting from it all are the union bosses.

  • Comment number 77.

    No they don't. Especially public transport strikes. They are done deliberately to inconvenience the hard working general public. The RMT and their members couldn't care less about anyone but themselves. The day Bob Crow disappears forever is a day that should be celebrated.

    My advice to all, they seem to want to ruin our days so lets ruin theirs. Don't serve them at the bank, in the pub, don't sell them coffee, sandwiches, anything. If they want to make our lives hell to sort their own problems out then so be it. Just don't expect any service of any kind from the general public in return. If they strike for a day, don't serve them for a week. 2 days, 2 weeks.

    I am sick of their selfish attitude. We all have problems, just we don't drag everyone else in to them in an attempt to get them sorted out.

  • Comment number 78.

    The only strike that I can recall to be a total success was that by the Police in a major Canadian City (I think it was Toronto). The strike was over pay, and was to last 24 hours.
    It lasted 12 hours with the striking Police winning more than their original demands. Perhaps the Home Secretary should note!
    On the other hand we can all remember failed strikes by the dozen. The secret is to have a strong hand and to plan your actions correctly.
    Whatever the result, in almost every instance the main reason for a strike is the failure of management to understand man management in its wider meaning.

  • Comment number 79.

    I do have some sympathy with certain public sector workers, mainly front line NHS staff, and other areas where people make a real difference for very little pay.

    But Crowe and his fellow union militant cronies can gel on, as I understand it we are talking about 650 jobs that were most likely to go voluntary and not compulsory, but than again Mr Crowe has not had any headlines for a while so any excuse will do to get his over paid workers out on strike.

    The public sector needs to wake up like the rest of us, I have not had a pay increase in 3 years, and do not get cushy pension at the end of it all.

    The only people that suffer by all these strikes are people trying to go about their business and put food on the table.

  • Comment number 80.

    This debate will be split straight down the middle.
    Those who believe every person has the right to withdraw their labour in pursuit of retaining their job or improving their work conditions and those who think it a heinous crime.

    Why do we treat the worker fighting for their liveliehood like a pariah?

    Is it for the same reason that we allow the mighty Service Industry Bosses in the City to get away with robbing the country blind as otherwise they will take their business eleswhere?
    The government quietly filling their pants in fear.

    One rule for the rich and another for the poor. 1980's /2010's the emerging similarities are hardly glaring.
    'Gis a Job' v 'Loadsamoney'.

    Here we go again the Tories are back in power!

  • Comment number 81.

    good old beeb.strikes,yes we can talk about that,it's safe to go union bashing!what about the most savage cuts in our history,no! might displease desperate dave and his band of "cut" throats.we pay the licence fee "pro bono publico"not to sucker up to the right wing hordes of the vile and the greedy.aunty better put in for a sex change and fast!it needs to find the balls to stand and fight for "ALL"the people not those who we allow to play in "our" sawdust ring,remember,"we are all in this together", sort it.....

  • Comment number 82.

    Sue Doughcoup wrote:
    Wake up you morons and realise that there are 6 billion people out there most of whom will do your job for a lot less.

    What more mass immigration to get lower paid Transport Staff?
    Exactly who's the moron?

  • Comment number 83.

    IN France stikes really do work. Successive governments have caved into the unions for years. In this country it is the opposite. Despite having higher union membership in the UK than France unions are ineffective and selective in who they help. Much of this is down to their relationship with Labour which is at it's heart, a conflict of interests.

    The French also believe in things. Unions get support. The French value a societal community view of thigs while the in UK people only care about how they personally have been put out. It is this individualism and selfishness which defines us in lots of other ways. It's at the centre of drunkeness on a Saturday, it's why we wont speak to one another or help one another in need. The indiviual's wants comes first. Hence why strikes don't garner the same support in the UK as they do in France.

  • Comment number 84.

    While the Austerity Measures remain unbalanced the Strikers have some argument on their side.

    It's completely wrong for higher levels to be rewarding themselves highly (in some cases 30% rises, in the case of bankers much more) while the lower levels suffer reduced pay or the sack.

    It's the higher levels greed, poor management, poor planning and lack of vision / foresight that has allowed the mess we are in to evolve unchecked.

    Austerity should be the same for everyone, with those causing the problem (or failing to act) suffering the most, that's largely the higher levels in the government machine and the related public sector and the banks.

    There may well be "poll tax" style riot's if there is a lack of fairness which there clearly isn't at the moment.

  • Comment number 85.

    Do I support strikes?

    Depends on the reason I suppose? I certainly do in some cases. To many employers exploit their workforces or move business abroad because it's cheaper and they can get away with a lot more than they can in this country. To many company bosses make cut back after cut back whilst giving themselves a huge pay bonus.

    Seen it happen to many times in the last 10 years.

    Of course Joe Public will allways whinge that "their" day has been ruined or interuppted in some way.

    But there are valid arguments against striking in certain cases as well.
    Since I dont live in London, nor have I ever used it's transport services I can't know if the strikers have point about security or not.
    I certainly dont think cutbacks are a good idea if the media is to be belived!

  • Comment number 86.

    Its alway those who are least able to defend themselves that are at the rough end of any cuts...not the banks or the greedy and shortsighted politicians who created the "deficit" in the first place. The working and out of work should make their voices heard that the Tories are going too far, too fast, to demolish what is left of the welfare state. Privatisation will prove more costly, as found recently by the NHS, who are still having to pay for the building of "centres of excellence.."

    Striking is the ONLY way to show workers power, especially in the face of managers who refuse to negotiate, eg B.A, in an effort to appear "tough." We don't need the Tories "tough" decisions and "tough" actions. Why should we accept pay cuts, longer hours, etc, all under the guise of the "deficit"? We are certainly not in this together...not while the utilities are announcing huge profits. Make the strikes work, and give support to those who are making sacrifices.

  • Comment number 87.

    An ongoing environment of strikes and unrest will just drive investment to somewhere else and the UK loses out, so really, strikes do no-one any good in the long run.

    Some may get a pay rise in the short term, but as many will probably lose their jobs to compensate for this, its a lose/lose situation.

  • Comment number 88.

    6. At 11:39am on 07 Sep 2010, Alastair wrote:
    How do the unions propose to deal with the deficit, caused by the Labour Party which they support?

    Basically your a muppet, your ignorance in your comment is apparant to others.

    There are FACTUALLY 2 deficits.

    1. The official deficit which is around £925 BILLION
    2. The bank bailout UNOFFICIAL deficit which is over £800 BILLION

    BOTH deficits actually effect UK credit rating and also BOTH deficits are taxpayer liabilitys.

    It is FACTUALLY the banks £800+BILLION which has pushed UK TOTAL borrowing ability to near its limits and WHY it is hard to borrow any more.

    UKs TOTAL national debt is very deceitful/deceptive.

    Put it this way.

    If a childs parent acts as guarantor for a loan, the liability of that loan ultimately falls on the parent.

    The same with UK national debt.

    Government/TAXPAYER liability is the £925 "official" debt + the £800+ "unofficial" debt of whom UK taxpayers are the guarantor.

    When UK government seeks to borrow ANY money from the markets, the markets USE the TOTAL amount of debt liability as the basis for loaning any further funds, just as when a parent seeks loans, a loan company will use the TOTAL amount of parent liability which includes any guarantor liabilitys.
    This is the CENTRAL reason why it is important to show that UK banks are doing OK which in itself is quite pretentious because we have had the EU test and we have had stated bank profits but the reality is very very different from that portrayed.

    Thing is this year UK banks are due to repay around £265 BILLION of this debt, but the fact is, they do NOT have all of it and may have to roll over upto £140 BILLION, of which is going to indirectly/directly effect UK taxpayers and government borrowings.

    Basically, even though there is ALREADY a deferment ability/clause, to put off upto £140billion of banks due repayment, what it essentially and FACTUALLY is, is a pre-arranged DEFAULT of payment.

    While all this is going on, ordinary Mr/Mrs/ms Joe Bloggs are losing their jobs, having pay cut, having pensions cut, having increases in VAT and other taxes, being made to work longer years before retiring etc etc, WHILE senior bankers are STILL attaining MASSIVE bonuses and MASSIVE salary rises to escape bonus taxes.

    Also, such areas as the safety of the public is FACTUALLY being undermined and DAMAGED, whether cuts to police & justice, cuts to transport safety systems re: personal (remember Kings Cross fire & terrorist attacks), cuts to UK defence, cuts in MANY areas which effect the safety and wellbeing of the nation as a whole, but which the cynical and pretentious/devious politicians would have you believe that safety etc is NOT at risk.

    London underground is a SERIOUS part in the UKs economy, to cut its ability to deal with any number of situations, to cut its personel so that any few problems or issues which arise on a DAILY basis effectively leave it with little or NO capacity to deal with ANY major incident.

    There is ALREADY enough SERIOUS crime in London underground, WHO do you report a crime to ASAP to attempt to apprehend the criminal, if theres NO-ONE available to report to.

    Its ALL very well cutting wasteful unecessary paperwork, but these cuts FACTUALLY REDUCE London undergrounds ability to respond to MANY MANY incidents, whatever pretentious deceits London Underground managment may put to validate their CUTS.

    It seems to me UTTERLY crazy that so much of what we RELY upon for our economy to grow and prosper, is actually being cut and undermined, whether as in todays report on Universitys of degraded UK status, or our ESSENTIAL transport systems, which are the VEINS of our economy, or research and development which are CENTRAL to future wealth creation and prosperity.

    You also miss the essential reality that much of Labours expenditure was on essential services that had been ravaged by previous Tory government, years of neglect and little investment of which in so many instances "Great" Britain provided among the WORST standards and delivery of health/education/roads/transport etc etc in Europe , and even beyond.

    Its so easy and simplistic to blame Labour for all todays problems, it is FACTUALLY a FALSE reality.

    Both labour AND Torys are to blame for much, their policys are based essentially upon IDEALISM and NOT SUSTAINABLE REALISM.

    But also, the UK electorate is also part to blame for allowing themselves to be so easily bought and fooled by political carrots and promises.

    Hence if you just looked in the morror, you would see who is as much to blame as Labour.

  • Comment number 89.

    #21. At 11:59am on 07 Sep 2010, David Horton wrote:
    Do they work?

    Occasionally. If up against a weak or timorous management.

    Would I strike, for any reason?

    Not a chance. Not even to save my own job or pension. While all the idiots are waving their silly placards, I would be looking for another job. I have crossed picket lines in the past and would do so without a second thought. How dare some gang of left wing rowdies dictate to me what I will and will not do.

    Do I have any sympathy with strikers?

    Nope. Never have, never will. I'd see them all discharged, especially train and tube drivers. The knowledge that we are being held to ransom by the greed of a few power crazed militants is maddening.

    But what really incenses me is the trite sanctimoniousness of union members seeking to justify their reason for striking. "We're striking because we care about your safety."

    Oh shut up and get back to work.


    And what really incenses me is this type of comment. You are welcome to your opinion of course, but do you actually know why these people are stiking, or why anyone goes on stike.

    Lets get this straight, you are not being held to ransom by the greed of a few power crazed militants. Unions are made up of a group of workers who vote someone in as their leader to act on their behalf (a bit like the Labour party are doing at the moment). They also all have to vote on whether or not to strike, otherwise it is not considered legal. In this case the Unions have gone on strike because the management want to cut down on Station staff. The very staff that are there for my and your safety which means that many people will lose their jobs have to go on benefits, possibly lose their home, and then I suppose you will moan that they are paid benefits from your tax money.

    And you call Union members santimonious!

  • Comment number 90.

    The general question: Do strikes work? Yes. All countries can only function because of the day-to-day labour of ordinary working people. If they don't turn up to their jobs, the politicians, generals and high-flying entrepreneurs are sunk. If they weren't, strikes would worry no one, and the afore-mentioned would be seen rolling up their sleeves, taking the place of the workers, and running the country indefinitely. This is why the priority of all governments in western Europe over the last thirty years of neo-liberism has been to destroy the ability of working people to effectively protest against unjust and incompetent government decisions in the area of pay, working conditions, pensions, etc. Some governments have been successful in this, others haven't. There are European countries in which the working population has been vigilant enough to prevent their government disabling them by creeping legislation (usually by getting rid of that particular government). In these countries, a strike will be a real issue for a government and it will have to take note of even this level of discontent. There are European countries in which it will be very hard for strikes to be effective, because the working population has failed to be similarly vigilant and active. In such countries a strike per se will achieve very little. Governments of such countries will only take note of discontent when it reaches levels that threaten social order.
    Second question: am I in agreement with the strikers? Yes.
    My experience is that the majority of working people try to find some satisfaction and status even in the hardest, most pathetically paid job. Most people like their routine and don't like conflict. It therefore takes a lot to make them go on strike, particularly with the additional disincentives of post-strike sackings, management bullying and scapegoating. In the present situation, it is clear that the working population is taking the government message 'We're all in the same boat' with an enormous mound of salt: some of us are rowing, some are safe up on the bridge shouting orders, and others are on a sun-lounger on the deck with a nice glass of champers. Where there is manifest unfairness in the way an economic situation is dealt with, there is bound to be protest, unrest and strikes, if not more.

  • Comment number 91.

    For those who do not understand the principles of Unions or Strikes, let me simplify it for you.
    No-one can afford to strike. There will be pay during the strike period and it affects any pension you pay into.
    However - it is never the first option. Long periods of discussions take place first. It is only when the two sides cannot agree that the call for strike action is completed. There is always much discussion of compromise.
    The members of the Unison will vote for/against action. It is not a decision made by union hierarchy
    Strikes are not only about money. They are frequently about erosion of rights built up over many years of strife.
    Every worker needs thr right to withdraw their labour when there is no other choice - apart from to roll ever (not acceptable)
    Strikes these says are not wildcat. There is a notice period served on the employer, and it is up to that employers to make it'c customers aware. Likewise it is then up to the customer to make their own arrangments during the strike period.
    It is utterly selfish for customers to think of themselves alone, and the their small inconvenience. Maybe they are the lucky ones - the ones whose employer does not undermine their rights/conditions and pay etc

  • Comment number 92.

    Too much is being made of "fairness" without actually considering the consequence. The rich pay more tax in both absolute and proportional terms yet claim the least in the way of services - what's fair about that?

    And now I hear Brendan Barber's on the warpath, harking back to memories of the poll tax. Pity he displays his ignorance of the facts by claiming it was "unfair". The poll tax was completely fair - that's why it upset people!

  • Comment number 93.

    The modern way to settle reward negotiation is to move to a better employer.
    The employment market allows free movement of labour, we have portable pension schemes, adult education and retraining are available in part time and remote learning forms, and there is government money support too.

    So what is the point of strikes when it hurts our employers, our customers, our country's economy and ultimately ourselves?

  • Comment number 94.

    The Teamsters had mafia links and would apply heavy pressure

  • Comment number 95.

    Strikes are industrial inaction. Stopping something is a lot easier than finding a viable alternative.

    Perhaps if unions are so good at organizing industrial action, they can organise competing and competitive companies which can employ people who actually want to do the job, instead of just working for money.

    If bosses are worth the money they are paid, why is there industrial discontent? Rather than pay the workers more, pay the bosses less!

  • Comment number 96.

    Do I agree with the Unions? I am personally against Unions. They serve no modern purpose.

    Are the strikes the best way to deal with the cuts? Strikes just demonstrate how greedy Unions can be. I am sure that there are hard working people that would be HAPPY to have a job. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. You are responsible for you. If you don't like the pay then go somewhere else. Let someone have your place who won't whine and complain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Do strikes work? Oxymoron?

    Anyway, the right to withold labour is the only recourse empolyees have when aggrieved. Whether they work or not is down to individual cases.

    What you are really asking is - Shoul London commuters be inconvienienced while employees of London Underground carry out their democratic right? Well, what other action should they take? Sulk while driving the trains?

    comment 77

    "No they don't. Especially public transport strikes. They are done deliberately to inconvenience the hard working general public."

    Are Tube staff not hard working? Of course they are done deliberately, never seen one carried out by accident.

    If it makes you angry, then it's going some way to working.

    Keep it up.

  • Comment number 98.

    on 07 Sep 2010, RubbishGirl wrote:
    // There is also a growing resentment in the private sector, where unfairness & bad treatment in the workplace is rife but striking just isn't an option. For example & to use an industry that I know well, Retail has changed drastically over the last few years. No day is sacred anymore, staff (particularly management) are expected to make themselves available pretty much 24/7 (anyone who's ever worked the "Next" sale or a "Debenhams" megaday event will know what I mean) Bank Holidays no longer exist, you work up to right up to xmas eve & are back in on boxing day often early in the morning (7.30am for me last year). O/T is unheard of & lieu for extra hours worked is hard to obtain, sick pay has gone the way of the dinosaur & the restrictions on what time you can & can't have off are ridiculous, added to this the pay is, in most cases, terrible & is in no way reasonable considering the amount of work required. Yet striking is just not an option. "If you don't like it get out" is the usual response. So I did! It amuses me no end when the public sector babies I now work with complain about having to do the odd extra hour or work a saturday, they don't know they're born!//

    This is why there ARE Unions, to protect workers from effectively being held to ransom and fear employers. Although it might seem great to consumers that these high street stores have their sale but they will still be clearing up financailly because cost of employment is minimal. Some middle management has decided that its best to reduce costs by, to all intents and purposes having a slave labourforce that daren't push back because they know that there are 4 Million unemployed who will replace them.

  • Comment number 99.

    I never did support strikes, especially in the 70's when the UK motor industry was always more idle than active, and this combined with making cars with the build quality of a tin can finished it off.

    However I will support the French over pensions, and would encourage the UK population to do likewise. The UK has the lowest state pension in the EU, less than even Romania, and its senior citizens are treated with utter contempt, not to mention the reported/estimated 30k who died of hyperthermia over the winter.

    Action this day!

  • Comment number 100.

    Simple - if you don't like the work/conditions/pay - LEAVE! Don't just mess it up for everyone else - that is ignorant & selfish!

    I would put any money down that if a union rep wanted an abulance because their kid was ill & the ambulances were on strike due to the shade of yellow on their jackets, said union rep would NOT be a happy bunny! Well all you '70s throwbacks - would you????

    What if they were on strike over 25% cuts in resources and effectively a 10% cut in pay? This isn't a hypothetical question Because that is the situation that will apply in 2 Years time.

    Would that still be a throwback to the 1970's or would it be a case of defending an essential emergency service?

    We will see groups such as Nurses, Police Officers,Prison Officers,who wouldn't dream about taking industrial action seriously considering doing so because the government has chosen to claw back the money squandered by grasping incompetent multimillionaire bankers from the public services workers rather than via a transaction tax on those who caused this problem


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