Thursday, 25 February 2010


I have only twice been involved in strike action. Once there was a student strike when I was at university. I wasn't going to bother fighting the pickets to get to lectures because I knew that poorly-attended lectures would be cancelled anyway. So I took up my picket post in the library and worked on a project. The strike was a total waste of time. I can't even remember what it was supposed to achieve but really, one day of not attending lectures? Has there ever been a student who has attended every single lecture on their course? Nobody was even slightly inconvenienced by that strike. Nobody outside the university even noticed.

Much, much later, shortly before the department I worked in was closed down, making me redundant, handing me enough cash to start up on my own while simultaneously closing down the one department that would have offered me any competition, there was another strike.

I was a member of the union so was obliged to do no work for an afternoon. Oh, the hardship! To hell with manning the picket lines. I sat in my office and read a book. This time, it was the lecturers who were on strike in protest at being offered a 0% pay rise (yes, they insisted on adding the 'per cent' every time they mentioned it, even though any student could have pointed out that 'zero' means 'nothing at all' and therefore has no need of a qualifier).

The strike was futile. Not only did the management not budge on that nothing-at-all offer, they then decided to freeze salaries for the next three years because they decided we were being paid far too much. So my options became - stay there and work in an atmosphere of below-zero morale, for a bunch of people who despise me and on the same pay for three years, or take three years' salary at once and do something else. Not a difficult choice. That redundancy payment was the only time in my life I'd had to pay 40% tax on anything and I'm determined not to do that again.

Neither strike worked because those on strike weren't affecting the wider community at all. If the police went on strike, criminals would take full advantage and everyone would notice. If the fire brigade went on strike, people with burning houses would notice. Likewise, medical personnel, bus drivers, trains, the post office and so on. We notice at once when those things aren't happening. Nobody outside a university or college knows or cares whether the staff or students are on strike. It's a waste of time.

Now, it seems that 270,000 civil servants are to go on strike. Some will no doubt be useful in their jobs, most will be worthless seat-fillers. So I would suggest the government take the opportunity this presents.

Some of those striking workers will be missed. Come to an arrangement with them. The absence of the rest of them will not be noticed. If they are on strike and nobody notices, then there is no deal to make. In fact, since they are supposed to be essential to the running of the country, yet the country functions perfectly well without them, why not let them strike forever? The unions can cover their salaries rather than the taxpayers and we'll see how they like it.

Go on, Gorgon. You've been looking for things to cut. This is a golden opportunity, right here. The useless are about to reveal themselves.

It'll be one in the eye for the Tories too, and I know how much you love to beat them. They can't promise cuts if you've already done it.

Go on, man. You know you want to. Obo and the Slug are already considering voting for you. This action will probably secure those votes.

Let's face it. You're going to need every vote you can get.

(You still won't get mine. I just... can't. There is no soap strong enough to wash my hands afterwards.)


Captain Ranty said...

That would stain your soul, Leggy.

There's no soap available to clean that.

GorBro (so named because he and SuBo are equally hairy, allegedly) will cave in within 20 minutes. That's 270,000 core voters getting cold on the streets. He will want them back inside, pushing paper, or whatever it is they do.


Pavlov's Cat said...

Well I'll be going in.

Mainly as I'm on a Fixed Term Agreement and so am contractually obliged to attend work (and didn't join the Union, I need to keep my pennies for myself)

Also there are a lot of us on FTA's who are initially from the Private sector who took any job that was going*

If we can keep the thing running on strike days.
It'll show up where the deadwood is that needs to be cut.

and I'll get a contract extension until I can find another proper job.


* On my many training courses, during the the customary 'Introduce yourself' bit. The most oft heard phrase was "After I was made redundant ....."

Anonymous said...

The trouble is, most of the – as you so aptly put it – useless seat-fillers are the friends/drones/supporters of the Government who sit in their little ivory towers dreaming up ever-more elaborate ways of enabling politicians to stick their dirty noses into everyone’s lives, so they’re last people either of the parties want removed. No, when the cuts come, and believe me, they will come, and with a vengeance, it’ll be the front-liners - the ones who we really want to keep doing their jobs (if only they were allowed to do them properly) - who’ll be first for the chop. The ranks of Diversity Advisors, Human Potential Training Officers, Health & Safety Awareness Promoters and Racial & Sexual Equality Co-ordinators will be with us long after thousands of teachers, firemen, dustmen, road sweepers, grit-lorry drivers, telephonists, drain clearers, and park-keepers have been consigned to the scrapheap.

paulo said...

And I'll be going in too. I have never crossed a picket line in my life but this strike is wrong. In fact it's suicidal.

The country is on its arse because of the fuckwits in charge and PCS call a strike? FFS!!

People are losing jobs and the civil service strike.

Hang on I smell a rat. This plays right into McAvity's hands.

This is a stitch up.

I guarantee the support/turnout will be poor.



Leg-iron said...

Captain Ranty - at least SuBo is good at something. Didn't GoBo used to be the goblin in Noddy books? He's gone downhill since.

Leg-iron said...

It's not a strike that will get any public sympathy. Even the career dole claimers will be unhappy if the bru shuts down.

The cuts will, as Anon said, be all in front line services. Not one manager will go, even when they have nobody left to manage.

Flaming torches and pitchforks at the ready, then, for the march on those council offices that will no longer contain anyone useful.

JohnRS said...

Here's something you might like to think about. How to fire 2,500 staff at once.....

A bit of scaling up and I'm sure most of the 270,000 selfconfessed idlers could be dealt with in the same way.

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