On Thursday, public sector workers – teachers being the most talked about – took strike action in protest of pay, working hours and having to wait a bit longer for their pension.
I posted a tweet and a Facebook status, slightly tongue in cheek, to the effect that it would be more convenient if teachers had taken their strike day during August. Rather than picking up on the sarcasm in my message, friends in the teaching profession instead pointed out it would be more convenient if they got paid a fairer wage for the hours they undertake and the responsibilities they have to endure.
I’m never going to argue with that. I wouldn’t want to be a teacher – I find it difficult enough dealing with my own children, let alone being faced with a classroom full of the little blighters. It takes a special person to be a good teacher, and not all teachers can invoke interest in their students as well as others.
However, as with any time anybody strikes, I never fail to be amused – and bemused – by those who strike and their attitude to those of us who disagree with them. “I have a right to strike,” was one comment I heard. Arguments of freedom of speech and the right to express themselves followed; but the utter look of disdain thrown in my direction when I mentioned I had the right to disagree with their action is quite typical.
Striking seems to give people who are normally my friend the right to decide that, for the duration of the strike, they will hate me because I disagree with their decision. And then they wonder why I’m not quite so friendly with them when the strike is over.
Strike action, to me, is little more than organised bullying – something schools go out of their way to say they will not tolerate. It also does little to engender support from somebody like myself who, because of the strike action, has to take a day off work or rearrange my work diary in order to accommodate your decision to not work for a day.
I’d love a payrise too, but going to my boss and saying I’m not working until he gives me a payrise will simply see me being handed my P45 quite quickly.
And, I know this is going to sound shallow, but I’ve pulled in to the car park at the school my boys go to and most of the teachers there driver much nicer and newer cars than I do.
We all have to cut our cloth accordingly and, despite how rich people like to think Britain is, money is not as freely available as people believe.
So here’s what happens when you strike.
If you’re a public sector worker who strikes and is successful in achieving your goal of increased salary and pension, the money to pay for this will have to come from somewhere.
Possibly, it will come from the reduction in other public services to fund your better pay, which will have an adverse effect on you and everybody around you or, more likely, will be funded by an increase in taxes somewhere along the line. Which will put you, and the rest of us, right back to square one. And you’ll probably stop somebody else being employed, which means you’ll have more work to do.
If you’re a private sector worker who strikes and is successful in achieving your goal of increased salary and pension, the money to pay for this will have to come from somewhere.
Possibly, it will come from a reduction in other facilities your company can offer, meaning a reduction in income to the business, or it will be funded by an increase in costs to your customers, meaning your company will become less competitive in their market place and lose business to their rivals. Such outcome will inevitably lead to job losses.
Another way for a private company to raise money quickly is to make people redundant, reducing the overall wage bill to mean the rest can be paid better. Of course, this will mean the remaining workers have to take on more responsibility, and both of these courses of action will enrage the unions, who will start another round of strikes.
Strikes do nothing but cost companies money and damage more peoples lives than they improve.
This is why I fundamentally disagree with strike action, and it is my right to this opinion. So if you’re somebody who’s considering going on strike, think about the longer term ramifications such action will have, and don’t shout at me just because I don’t agree with your course of action.