Well yesterday was a first for me. The first time a strike has happened that involved me and my colleagues.
For those that were not aware, I am a member of one of the Civil Service Unions. Did I vote in favour of strike action? Well actually I didn’t as I only received my ballot paper last week on 23rd November in the post. The closing date for the ballot was 14th November.
Did I actually go on strike? Well not as such no. I was working from Sunday to late on Tuesday night in North Wales, so on Wednesday my “work” was to travel home from their to East London – some 270 or so miles. This was to be done by driving.
How could I strike? I’d either have had to drive home on Tuesday night- leaving there around 10pm or stay in Wales an extra day and drive home Thursday in work time. This would mean losing a day’s pay for the strike AND having to pay for a night in a hotel at my own expense – a double whammy on costs for me.
Driving home, I was listening to the radio in the car and the ignorance of so many people on both sides in this strike is incredible.
David Cameron using weasily words in the House, saying it was wrong to strike whilst negotiations were on-going and then claiming “MEETINGS” were taking place between the government and unions. Note that word – “MEETINGS” – he avoided claiming explicitly that negotiations were on-going. Why? – possibly because there have been no negotiations, simply meetings to discuss the effects of the strike etc.
Now, what is negotiation? I always understood it was where both parties tried to find an agreeable solution, not where the government say we are going to renege on what we have to contractually pay you and you will have to accept it.
Francis Maude does his bit for relations by threatening to make the deal worse for employees if they strike. He threatened to remove any concessions offered if there was a strike.Just the way to encourage more people to support the strike.
This strike is not about the unions demanding MORE, it is about them trying to minimise the amount the government are going to renege on their contractual arrangements by. If the Unions get everything they ask for, their members will not have a penny more than they previously had. An inflation busting deal? No, its about trying to keep the deflation to a minimum..
Civil servants have already accepted a 2 year pay freeze across the board, despite some of us having contractual agreements to pay increases! We learn this week we are to be limited to 1% pay rises at best for the next 2 years. So in 4 years I will have had a 2% pay increase. I wish my expenditure had gone up the same amount. Rail fares alone go up around 10% each year, let alone fuel bills.
The government give everyone a day off to celebrate the royal wedding earlier this year with apparently no harm to the economy. Yet 2 million out of the 30 million workers take an unpaid day off and it is going to cost the country £500 million. Go figure!
The media spin things
With picket lines sparsely populated, the NHS suffered minimal disruption and Britain’s borders operated more smoothly than normal. JobCentres remained open, courts were sitting, rubbish was collected and driving tests went ahead. Despite this in some parts of the country, the combination of striking workers and parents trying to entertain their children on a day off from school triggered a pre-Christmas mini sales boom.
Can anyone explain this paragraph from the Daily Mail? No body is on the picket lines, no disruption is apparently caused anywhere, yet the streets are teaming with shoppers?
Around 80% of schools were closed or partially closed, yet David Cameron calls the strike a damp squib. 2 million people or 1 in 15 of the workforce is hardly a damp squib. A number of years ago, 1 million people protested against the Iraq War and the Tories told us it was a shocking indictment o how the Labour government of the day were out of touch. Now isn’t 2 million even more people protesting? Well Mr Cameron?
Then we have the BBC giving a platform to Jeremy Clarkson to proclaim he wanted to shoot strikers in front of their families. He’s a lad isn’t he – promoting murdering those whose views you don’t agree with. Not that we have a rising tide of violence and gun crime in the country eh?
So, those of you still reading this will no doubt wonder if I have turned into a rabid communist. Well, rabid yes, communist no.
Actually, I have a lot of sympathy with those who say we need pension reform. Life expectancy is growing. When pensions were first introduced, life expectancy was only a matter of months after the retirement age, not as now where it can be decades. I have no problem with the phased introduction of a higher retirement age across the board. This seems sensible. However, to punish the civil servants for the failure of successive governments to make proper provision for future pension liability.
Some people working in private sector say that as they do not have final salary pension schemes, then the public sector should not have them. So they want to drag everybody down to the lowest level. Fine, they no doubt have homes to go to, some people are homeless, so will they be prepared to lower themselves down to the level of the homeless? I don’t see many of them thinking this is a good idea. I think they are being a tad hypocritical. They object to anyone having what they don’t, but are not prepared to apply similar standards when they have things others don’t.
We should be striving to improve pensions for all, not reduce people to the lowest common denominator.
Now, about these useless striker that cost too much – I’d suggest Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres – 11 or so months after their transfers, just how many goals have they scored between them? Not enough to justify their combined transfer fees of nearly £90million pounds