Opinion, Politics

Strikes

A rant about strikes. Or not.

Living in France I know all about strikes. We get them regularly. Now I work in Luxembourg the only effect of strikes I notice is when the cross border commuters can’t get the train so they make the traffic jams even worse.

During my many years in Paris and its surrounding area my life was very regularly disrupted by strikes. Paris isn’t Paris without some protest going on somewhere. Strikes are a nuisance and yes, they are expensive to the local economy.

But we are very lucky to be in a position to complain about strikes. We are very lucky that trade unions are there to protect workers. Can you imagine if there was no way of workers getting their voice heard? If they had no representatives? You don’t have to dig very far back into British history to see what life was like before workers had reps and rights.

Reading the Daily Mail and listening to people rant on the radio you would think that most Brits believe that workers shouldn’t have the right to strike. Which is a very frightening mindset, and if the Tories get wind of that mindset you can expect more attacks on workers’ rights. Remember how Thatcher is best remembered for, other than being a milk snatcher, breaking the unions? Was that a good thing? Read articles like this one by Simon Heffer, and note how in point five he wants to do is abolish the minimum wage for young people. Look at point eight.

Now we are lucky enough that Simon Heffer is not a policy maker in the UK, but there are people in government who think like him. They think that those of us who do the underling work are worthless, and shouldn’t have rights. We have got above our station. Especially those who, God forbid, educate our children and care for our sick..

I am not sure if I agree with the civil service striking over pensions yesterday. I haven’t read enough about it. But before you complain about how your life is being affected by those strikes, please stop and think about what life would be like if we didn’t have the right to strike, and if we didn’t have trade unions. Working hours, maternity leave, the right to paid leave, various equality laws…

Yes strikes are a nuisance. But life without them would be unthinkable.

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