Well done the Unions

I do support free trade, and I don’t think strikes are a good way of resolving disputes. Yet I do take my hat off the strikers this morning who highlighted the manifest injustice of EU law, and have won the concessions of some jobs for locals.

It shows the foolishness of making these laws at EU level where it so difficult to get them right, and even more difficult to get them changed when they manifestly are not working. I do not accept that those of us who want the law changed are anti free trade and competition. We are asking that local people should have the chance to compete for the work, so we are the free traders. If locals have the skills and want to do the jobs, why should they be prevented?

The government should promise to use its much advertised “influence” in Brussels to get this law amended. If they don’t we will have to conclude they don’t have influence after all.


  1. Bazman
    February 5, 2009

    You do not get anywhere by begging and being reasonable with people who cannot be reasoned with. The Shell tanker drivers did not get a pay rise by ‘discussion’. They got it by not driving tankers. Try having a reasonable discussion with your utility company. You will get your supply cut off. Sound reasonable?

  2. Steve
    February 5, 2009

    So in fact you’re against free trade when it suits you to support an anti EU agenda

    Reply: On the contrary – try reading the blog.

  3. Robert Eve
    February 5, 2009

    Must be the first time in my life that I’ve felt sympathy for any strikers.

    However I’m still irked by the term’strike action’.

  4. Stewart Knight
    February 5, 2009

    Well done the unions?

    If this had been a Tory Government would they have been so quick and pliant?

  5. anoneumouse
    February 5, 2009

    50% of British Jobs for 25% of British workers

    You don’t think strikes are a good way of resolving disputes.

    Wrong Mr Redwood, When you have 80% of EU laws for 100% of British People then, the concept of the first strike is the best form of defence.

    “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves”.

    Winston Churchill.

  6. rugfish
    February 5, 2009

    It’s nice to see you sticking up for commonsense and fairness Mr Redwood.
    In language too, we British are disadvantaged as upwards of 70% of Europeans are taught English but we English would have to learn 20 odd languages to be equal with the opportunities all countries get here. i.e. We are precluded in lots of jobs simply by having 20 odd languages to learn.

    I don’t think in all honesty it can be argued that we are equal either when this government advertises British jobs across the world, and allows foreign recruitment agencies to set up shop here which then recruit ONLY foreign nationals. It’s disgraceful.

  7. Francis Irving
    February 5, 2009

    I’m trying to play catch up here, but none of the newspaper articles today explain it.

    What EU law are you talking about, and how does it discriminate against British workers?

    Posted Workers Directive. The iussue was a contractor bringing in an entire workforce without advertsiing the jobs locally.

  8. Johnny Norfolk
    February 5, 2009

    Ita a joke, the labour party was born to help the “workers”. Todays Labour government appears to work against them.
    What is the point of havingf a minimum wage for example when you cannot apply for the job you want as they have been given to people from othe countries.

    No one likes strikes but this time I was for them all the way.

    They have acted reasonably. They have not asked for the earth, ( unlike the miners strike) and have settled when Labour has learnt the error of its ways.

    We will have a year or so of this sort of thing as Labour is now in its death throws and have lost all sence from what little they had, its just hang on at any price.

    They have been happy to sit back and just sign EU legislation with no regard for British workers.

    1. Kay Tie
      February 5, 2009

      They haven’t acted fairly at all. There were no vacancies at all: the original contractor that hired these workers lost the contract because it failed to perform. As as consequence it had no work and laid off the workers. The Italian company, IREM, won the contract and already has employees (it hasn’t taken on any more).

      For you to say that “Labour learnt the error of its ways” is absurd: it is not up to the Government to dictate which supplier a company chooses to use. The Labour Party has done nothing with this strike other than whip up trouble and fail to explain the situation properly.

      1. Johnny Norfolk
        February 5, 2009

        We should make every effort to look after our own people. Now that Labour has sent our country into a slump it is a different ball game.

        We must look after our own people, thats why we have had wars in the past.

        1. Kay Tie
          February 5, 2009

          Nice one. Who will buy our products or hire our companies when other countries are “looking after their own”? In the 1930s we turned a recession into the Great Depression by following your ideas. Let’s not do that again, eh?

      2. Acorn
        February 5, 2009

        Well said Kay Tie. Unfortunately there are many who do not understand how the international contracting works, particularly in the Oil and Power industries. Or, how these companies maintain their recognition in the market by keeping their core competences “in house”.

        The strikers should ask themselves why they are still “jobbing” from site to site.

        One thing that has been tested in this event is the concept of the “official un-official strike”. It has worked well; it avoids all those strike ballots; all that anti-union employment legislation. Expect to see some more trade union orchestrated “wildcat” strikes.

        1. Bazman
          February 6, 2009

          This idea of ‘jobbing’ as you put it is just stupid. Most of the oil and gas work is through agencies who will rip off their workforce often not paying or not paying the rate agreed as well as many other scams. Many of the companies are involved with the agencies in these practices. It is all about driving down the cost of labour even if it means the quality is worse and repair work has to be carried out. For example Weld defects or repairs are very expensive to detect and to remedy. Not to mention time consuming. Many companies will take these costs rather than pay for good tradesmen. What you are basically saying is that all companies should be free to do what they like and employ whom they like. With everyone just putting up and shutting up. You are an employers dream. The unions where bypassed as they were seen as weak and most of the strikers are just sick of government spin from Peter Easy Jet Mandelson and Tory complicity. Go and sharpen you pencil Acorn and Kay Tie get us a tea luv.

  9. Kay Tie
    February 5, 2009

    I can’t see what’s wrong with being able to buy and sell services freely between EU countries. It’s free trade, and selling one’s labour is a service, so why can’t I sell my service anywhere I like? Why should I have to run the risk of racist abuse if I visit a factory to install a piece of equipment in France? Why should my suppliers be subject to mass picketing when they come and set up my IT system? Or is it only greasy engineers that should suffer protectionism?

  10. Waramess
    February 5, 2009

    “If they don’t we will have to conclude they don’t have influence after all.”

    I wonder why you bothered with this sentance given that you state no more than the obvious.

    Politicians of all sides are quite eager at the time to make bold statesmanlike gestures with regard to EEC legislation when in fact they should be carefully reading the contents and considering the consequences.

    Once passed we have relinquished all control over the event.

    Best way out is to resign membership of the EEC and negotiate a trading accord on our terms.

  11. number 6
    February 5, 2009


    I concluded long ago that British governments, of any political stripe, have no influence over the EU at all. It really saddens me to admit that fact, but there we have it. Concessions wrung from the EU are not in any way comparable to making our own laws to fit our own needs.

  12. Sue
    February 5, 2009

    I believe that there is much that needs to be re-negotiated with Brussels. I am pro EU but not to the extent that everything is handed over to them as is presently the situation.

    Below, a piece copied from http://theyrejokingarentthey.blogspot.com/

    ”We are eager to work with the British and other joining countries towards our shared goals of joining in a free-trading area.
    Doubters in the United Kingdom should be assured that at any time they feel that the EEC is taking more power and control over the everyday life of Britain, they shall have immediate recourse to the provisions of the Clauses Terminales, which allow for easy and immediate cessation of further moves towards unification, and the replacement of intrusive European legislation with the original native British powers.”

    What happened to that? Where are our referendum?

    There are other promises mentioned on this particular site, non of which have been honoured. Presumably they were all made in order for legislation to be passed in the first place. In effect, the British People have been downright conned through the years on just about every subject by both major parties.

    Both the Conservatives and Labour will find the electorate slowly revolting against the EU and its greed for power.

    It’s happening here in Spain too, people are sick of being dictated to by an overpaid, distant quango, of out of touch politicians who are deciding our every move.

  13. Sebastian
    February 5, 2009

    I think we concluded that already John. Along with a lot of other things. NuLab must go. As you rightly point out though, the strikes highlight very well the gulf – which appears to be growing – between ordinary people and their common sentiments and the grandiose EU master plan as dreamed up by the Brussels unelected; sanctioned by the Strasbourg barely elected; and suffered by the UK denied elected.
    The free movement of EU workers during a depression brings more than was bargained for. It strains our obligations to breaking point. This widening separation between what the faceless and haughty EU demands from over there and what we think fair over here, bodes ill for the future. If more resentment and civil unrest is to be avoided, surely the democratic relationship – the social compact – between the office holders and the office givers must be restored; and quite fast. Along with a much more sensible approach to money.
    At the moment, the EU seems to have gone astray rather; and if the map doesn’t match the landscape, it’s the map that’s wrong.

  14. Idle Pen Pusher
    February 5, 2009

    “We are asking that local people should have the chance to compete for the work, so we are the free traders.”

    Could you highlight the EU law/regulation in this case which stops ‘local people’ from competing for work?

    There are 1000 reasons we should leave the EU. This doesn’t appear to be one of them.

    reply: Posted workers Directive

    1. Kay Tie
      February 5, 2009

      “reply: Posted workers Directive”

      Eh? That doesn’t make sense. The posted workers directive allows a contractor to.. er.. post his workers on site. That’s got nothing to do with vacancies: there were no vacancies because neither the customer nor the supplier had any vacancies.

    2. Idle Pen Pusher
      February 6, 2009

      I really don’t see how a regulation which means workers from other EU countries by other EU country employers posted here are subject to this country’s employment standards stops British or even specifically ‘local’ workers from competing for jobs.

      1. Bazman
        February 7, 2009

        …Mandelson could easily be replaced by a cheaper English speaking Italian MP, in his role as a unelected EU gravy train professional politician.
        Tradesmen in Britain do not carry out their trade for national minimum wage in Britain. Why should they? That is the point of having a trade ie to earn more money. How would any British tradesman go to a worse EU country and send money home?
        The posted workers directive as I see it ensures that anyone working in a EU country is entitled to that countries labour laws and wages. If these laws also applied to accommodation there would be no point in hiring foreign workers.
        Former East European counties have harsher living/working conditions, labour laws and lower pay than Britain. In short we are more advanced. They have gained something and good for them. Hurrah for the EU. This is also good if you have a nice middle class life or are a student serving beer in Spain. but I put it to Kay Tie, Pen pusher, and Acorn and anyone with these views. Should British tradesman be forced to work for NMW in this race to the bottom? For that is what it is, a lowering of the bar. Many of these so called tradesman are poor at their jobs and are winging it. They are products of that less advanced country with the employers also winging it. Employ an East European tradesman in your home at your peril. Agreed by many East Europeans I have talked to. My Russian wife agrees. She once asked my what the term ‘cowboy work’ meant after a comment by her British dentist on her teeth.
        That is how local workers are stopped from competing for jobs. It is not protectionism or racism. Or Rocket science. Chin Chin!

        1. Idle Pen Pusher
          February 12, 2009

          “Should British tradesman be forced to work for NMW in this race to the bottom?”

          No. Under no circumstances should anyone ever force someone else to work for them, no matter how well or badly paid.

          The police and the law should ensure that all people retain the right to quit their jobs if they want to.

  15. Bazman
    February 5, 2009

    It’s an unholy alliance of blokes like Ken Clarke who tell it how it is, and Peter Mandelson.

  16. Anne Palmer.
    February 5, 2009

    Dig a little deeper. Each hotel here in the UK and Ireland has many foreign workers. I talk to them because I like languages and in the liking I find out where they stay, how many to a room and when I ask why are there no ‘locals’ anymore, the answer is always the same. “Oh they do not want the work”. Yet, think back and the local always did the work and were happy to do so.

    Dig a little deeper. I feel sure they are paid at least the minimum wage fair enough, but are deductions being made for their board and lodgings? What is being deducted for living on a Barge? How many of them are on there? Where do they sleep? One to a room? Five to a room? Even so, they may indeed be happy with any arrangements made because they are still earning more money than they could do in their own Country and who can blame them for that? No one, I certainly can’t. But is it fair on British workers?

    Dig a little deeper. How many people were brought over to work in Essential Services and other businesses now bought out by Foreigners? Gas, Electric, so many businesses now.

    Dig a little deeper for there are firms here in the UK that recruit British people to work abroad under the same conditions set out above, they do not mind their “Spending money” they are left with because they are seeing more of “Europe” than they would normally do. It can be a whole can of worms being opened up, but perhaps one that should be opened up. Who knows what the outcome may be?

    This matter is not finished by a long shot yet John, you will be writing about this same subject more.

  17. […] such attitudes last? Debatable. But when even former Shadow Secretary for Deregulation John Redwood praises the workers for standing up for their rights, you know something’s […]

  18. Bazman
    February 15, 2009

    This is where you are going Pen Pusher. You are so naive. Or not?


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