Strikes

Yesterday evening I was invited by Sky to discuss the current wave of strikes in baggage handling, aviation, on the railways and at the Post Office. I naturally urged management and employees to sit down to sort it out. People do not want their Christmas arrangements messed up by strikes. It shows a singular lack of seasonal goodwill that so many groups of workers want to take it out on their customers at this time of year.

Some say the transport strikes should  be made more difficult by legislation. This government has recently changed the law in the Trade Union Act 2016. This now requires half of those eligible to vote to vote in a valid strike ballot, and for 40% of those eligible to vote for strike action, as well as a majority of those voting. It also requires the Union to hold the strike within six months of the mandate, and to seek renewal of the mandate if the strike drags on.  The strike ballot has to provide a clear statement of what is at issue in the dispute.  Do you think this is fair? Does it go far enough in seeking to ensure that there is proper support for a strike and that the workforce does know what is at stake?

The Southern Rail dispute has become embroiled in politics, with a Union leader saying he wants to use the strike to undermine capitalism and the Conservative government. It is a strange dispute, as the employees are being guaranteed jobs at no less pay from the changes the management wish to make. The Union accepts driver operated doors on trains on other routes, but will not accept them on Southern routes.

Who do you blame for the dispute? What if anything should the government do to make settlement more likely?

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88 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Well workers should have a right to withdraw their labour and employers should have a right to sack and replace them. Easy hire is easy fire is best for all in the end.

    • Hope
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      National security around economy should apply, legislate to ban strikes on railways. They are very expensive, inefficient and unreliable. Gray needs to take stock and do something radical not put its leaders in charge of the police to make them equally ineffective!

      Anyone in govt going to make us safe by having proper border controls to count people in and out? Yesterday’s tragic event in Germany by an alleged 23 yr old “asylum seeker” in the country only a few months. Do the idiots in govt now have any doubt about not negotiationg the four principles of the EU, namely freedom of movement. Out is out in its entirety. Get on with it.

      JR, Overseas aid out control : £285 St Helena airport that cannot be used, hundreds of millions for World Bank to administer £9 billion of our own money. Printing Patel appears to have swallowed the civil servant compliance tablet to rattle off group speak. Humanitarian aid for emergency work only. A resignation should follow for wasting £5 million on a pop group! These are our taxes when will the Tory loony tubes wake up?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Indeed.

        Doubless the BBC will assure us once again that it is entirely a religion of peace” or that the problems are just caused by the fact that some migrants have to live in the poorer parts of Paris, do not get to go to the theatre much or some daft absurdities to placate people.

        The problem is that a small but rather significant percentage of Muslims living in Europe are actually supportive of many of these things.

    • Bob
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      @liflogic
      Spot on!

      Employment law is so ridiculously one sided, you don’t just employ people, you adopt them. We need something approaching equality between employer and employee.

      I recently found that an informal act of kindness towards an employee in granting some flexibility iro hours (with conditions) effected an amendment to their employment contract despite nothing being official or put into writing. It later transpired that the conditions were unenforcable because they hadn’t been triggered over a 6 month period, so the contract was effectively amended in the employees favour without conditions.

      A similar situation which benefitted the employer could not be considered as an amendment to the employment contract unless it had been formalised in writing.

      As an employer you need to strictly protect your rights, because they are easily eroded by the one sided laws. Seems like it’s best to concede nothing.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        Indeed.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Most workers would disagree.

      • 37/6
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps workers could leave without notice or take time off when they like.

        • Hope
          Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          They do they call it sickness.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

          They do all the time.

          • 37/6
            Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

            The vast majority don’t.

    • Posted December 20, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      I’d agree. I cannot see that driving a train is any more difficult than driving a bus or an HGV. Some might say it’s easier, with no need to steer or watch out for pedestrians; just watch for the signals.

      • 37/6
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        The clue is in the time it takes to qualify.

        Bus/lorry driver – 2 weeks

        Train driver 10 months minimum. This has been cut back by the RSSB to its minimum – not a union representative on the board.

  2. Javelin
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Something very serious is going wrong with the four estates.

    (1) The church is weak and has very little strength.

    (2) The House of Commons has shown it no longer represents the commoners – regarding the most important issue for outlets times Brexit – but the majority of its members claim to be a elitist experts. The pro remain bias of The Commons very very seriously undermines its credibility and very existence.

    (3) The House of Lords claims to be a House of experts but remained completely ignorant of house mass immigration was destroying the lives of the people. The House of Lords has undermined its legitimacy and privilege and just like the House of Commons does not deserve the support of the people.

    (4) The main stream media – the fourth estate – is no longer respected or supported (financially) by the commoners. The vast majority no longer believe anything the mainstream media say. The MSM is owned and sponsored by large corporations and foreign interests. Alternative media is growing rapidly on the internet as the public areactually smart enough to realise the truth.

    All four estates need to be rebooted as they are all corrupt and completely unstable and none of them are capable of supporting each other in the event of any challenge.

    Brexit has exposed the four estates are as corrupt as at any time in our history.

    • Hope
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Well said. That is why Trump uses twitter straight to the people so he will not be distorted by the bias left wing media- it worked the people liked it! You would have thought with the continuing reduced sales in papers the owners and shareholders would wake up and demand impartial balanced investigative reporting. BBC represents all that is bad with bias left wing and extreme left wing reporting.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Javelin,
      I agree with most of your points; the Church of England is weak, and rightly so thanks to the Reformation.
      The Commons has let us down badly and shamefully. Since Major we’ve had weak and/or mendacious career politicians, often having had the best education but without the morals and ethics that high office requires. Mrs. May needs to shape-up quickly, or we will find the power vacuum filled by madness as the world heads into troubled times.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Excellent summary.All four estates are now dominated by a single interest group and as a result a class war has effectively broken out (not just here but across the western world): the globalist onepercent with their dupes,hirelings and fellow travellers -versus the rest.

    • rose
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      And something has gone terribly wrong with the judiciary. It seems to have started in the 90s.

  3. Mick
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Was watching the daily politics yesterday and it had that muppet lammy on ,are these muppets for real , he would go back to the days of the 60s 70s and 80s when the unions tried to run this country with there wild cat strikes, no thank you lammy and all the other backers of strikes you will not run this country down , let’s hope and pray Labour never get back into power for a very long time

    • Hope
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      The Labour are far more left than they were in those loony left days of the seventies and eighties. They want to end the monarchy, support IRA etc. Simply not fit for office. Sadly they have dragged the Tories way into the left as a consequence.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      For muppets watch the two lefties brought in for newsnight last night. Sensible people on the other side of the debate but Needless to say they were endlessly interrupted by the lefty remainiacs.

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely – I would just amend it to say labour should never be allowed into power ever again – their dogma has ruined us too often.

      It’s also time the lifeline labour have with the unions was cut – the competence of labour is most defined by how many times the party would have been bankrupted without union support ………….. and these incredibly inept socialists want to run our country – HEAVENS FORBID

      • Hope
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        It isn’t as if the Tories were doing a bad job at wrecking our society and country. The irritant Sturgeon should now be firmly told that the English taxpayer is fed up with her. Most of us do not care if Scotland became independent as long as there was a strong high wall dividing us with no strings attached.

        • Mick
          Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

          Ditto Hope
          But I think we should dig a deep canyon across England as well as a 25 foot electrified fence to keep the Scottish out, I’m feed up of listening to the winging strugeon, we the English tax payers give them over £10000 per head because of Barnett that’s why they want unlimited immigration more people more money. I hope they get another vote on independence but this time let the UK have a say, I would vote for them to go, they wouldn’t last 2 minutes in the real world

  4. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    The people who are on strike now do not have the threat of having their jobs exported overseas. Subconsciously I believe this is just another manifestation of the rejection of the prevailing economic order, which you have seen only at the ballot box this year. If there was no threat of having your job globalised, I believe you would see a lot more industrial action. Who on earth would put up with near stagnant wages, high amounts of tax and deplorable public services? While you know the government has your well being at heart when it is more interested in funding the Ethiopian “Spice Girls” than long term care

    • A different Simon
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Rising wages would not help , especially in the global economy .

      Any increase in UK wages is snaffled by the purveyors of mortgages in the form of mortgage interest and by land owners in the form of rents .

      Measures need to be taken to make existing wages sufficient and end debt bondage .

      Govt needs to stop propping up the housing/land market and allow the fairly severe house price crash to happen .

      Once house prices are reasonable , an annual location value tax should be levied to provide a negative feedback against rising prices . Tax on labour can be reduced correspondingly .

      Such a crash would take the banks with it but with cheaper houses their services would be required less .

      Heck , they might even have to resort to lending to small and medium businesses like they used to in the 20th century .

  5. Martyn G
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    The changes in the Trades Union Law 2016 are sensible but personally I would also have removed from the Unions their immunity from being sued or otherwise having to pay for the undesirable or unforeseen results of their actions upon ordinary folk.
    It surely cannot be right, as I understand it, that Unions alone have this privileged immunity for any responsibility, financial or otherwise, for the results on others of their actions.

  6. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I fully support the right of most workers to withdraw their labour. However where the workers are employed by a monopoly or virtual monopoly those rights should be limited.

    By withdrawing labour workers are handing advantage to competitors. This is the main lever they use in persuading their employers to negotiate. Where there is no competition strikers are merely beating the customer. The employer can recoup lost income after the strike and its market position is unchanged. The customer should be protected in these instances and the right to completely withdraw labour should not be available.

    There are other tools open to these workers with grievances. The example of the Australian train workers who leave the gates open and don’t collect fares being one such method.

  7. Mark B
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    People have a right to withdraw their labour after ALL other options have been exhausted. On that basis, I support strikes.

    If what is being stated that this is being done for political reasons, then this in my view counts as sedition, which is a criminal act. On that basis, the government should be seeking an injunction against the strikes preventing them from happening or for anyone involved from agitating or supporting such action. The leaders of the Union should be compelled, by force of law, that if they do not cease and desist from their actions the full force of the law will be brought against them.

    I am in full support for those who wish to settle their grievances with their employers by whatever legal means at their disposal, including striking, but draw the line against strikes against the State and for political and ideological reasons.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Such a shame when Unions act in this manner, but then that is down to membership apathy in not taking part in the running of their union and putting the right people at the top.

    So called collective bargaining has some good points for both employers and employees, but the negatives can be that it produces conflict from time-time.

    The way forward is to hold secret ballots before any strike, with more than 50% of the members voting, and more than 50% needed by those voters for a result.

    The problem most members have, is that they rely upon the interpretation of the union official at the time, to give to them the details of any offer made by an employer.

    Perhaps if the employer were to put the offer in writing to all members directly, then a different result may occur from time-time.

    Having been a union member, and eventually a shop steward for a few years in the early 70’s in the engineering industry, I have seen both sides try to manipulate employees and members for their own ends, which is why I got involved.

    Unions do protect workers rights and are a force for good, but only when working responsibly.

  9. Richard1
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Is it really the case that rail ‘privatisation’ has been implemented in such a way that Southern Rail bears no economic consequences of the strike because the taxpayer picks up the cost?! If so the franchise must be revoked and handed to a new operator who bears full economic costs and benefits. presumably Southern will have to be compensated for the cost of making all existing employees redundant. The new operator should then employ only non-unionised workers on a no strike agreement. Of course we can’t have whole swathes of the Country held to ransom by these militant unions. We need removal of trade union immunity from the consequences of their action – why can soldiers be prosecuted 45 years after acting in defence of the Country and the rule of law, but no-one can touch a militant union who has destroyed their livelihood or business? Don’t commuters in the south of England have a ‘human right’ to get to work and see their families? Strikes by monopoly public service workers should also be outlawed and replaced by mandatory arbitration.

  10. APL
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Just going to put this out there, see what people think.

    There would be even less incentive for people to strike if the value of the modest salaries they were being paid wasn’t destroyed by the governments own pro inflation – anti saving policies.

    If your take home pay could still buy the same value of goods as it did two or three years ago, I would be a lot less favorably disposed to these disputes that I currently am.

    Of course it’s worth noting that government ministers and Members of Parliament took the trouble to inflation proofing their own remuneration at the beginning of this Parliament to the tune of £10,000 a sum which may in some instances reflect the entire salary of one of these workers.

  11. Tim
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Should Unions be vulnerable to Civil action for loss or damage to customers caused by strikes?
    At the moment striking in public services is pretty much cost free to the Union and the striker (except the loss of earnings). Would creating some risk to balance the potential benefits of a strike provide some restraint, without restricting the “right” to withdraw one’s labour?

  12. Ian Wragg
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    It’s time immunity from prosecution was lifted on the unions.
    People whose lives are disrupted should be able to sue them for losses.
    No other organisation is exempt.
    Wee Kranky is making the news again threatening another referendum if she doesn’t get her way.
    For goodness sake organise one and let them either leave the union or shut up.

  13. acorn
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The Trade Union Act 2016, is not fully commenced yet. Section 3 was commenced on 5th December; but, as far as I know, it has nothing to commence. Have you seen an SI for a list yet of “important public services”?

  14. The Prangwizard
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Who do I blame?

    Corbyn and his revolutionary politics, and his friends and co-conspiritors in the unions are the principal forces.

    It has been enabled by weakness in government and elsewhere; failure to recognise that there are people who have malevolent motives and cannot be reasoned with, and to act and speak out against them at the outset. This is evident in other areas where our way of life is under attack.

    They take advantage of weakness in others, and failure to challenge and confront them is a betrayal of the majority who look to be protected, not betrayed.

  15. margaret
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Rather selfish as usual. It is not the time to make a political point . I have not ever agreed with strikes unless someone’s whole input in life is about to be disregarded and wiped out ( as in the miners strikes) . I do not agree with the juniors doctors strikes. I underwent , 100 ‘s hours on the go , on nights with far more responsibility than junior doctors: for a pittance . Think about a young girl on post op night , in charge of old fashioned wards with 5-6 patients recovering from major surgery with blood transfusions , intravenous fluids, in pain and on for the 11th night ..all this for a pittance, but it was our chosen career: to care for people. This is the problem; all some care about is themselves .
    Perhaps these workers should train for something else.

  16. Antisthenes
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The rights and wrong of industrial disputes can be argued interminably and not a correct answer could ever be arrived at. One irrefutable truth is that they do considerable damage quite often to those who are not directly involved in them and can have adverse effects on the nations economic well being. In this day and age it is time for a more mature attitude to be used in solving them. As strikes stand they are not much more than children refusing to play with each others toys.

    No longer should industrial disputes be allowed to cause collateral damage. So both employer and union in equal measure should be stripped of their immunity from being sued for damages for causing it. ACAS should be empowered to intervene and impose a settlement if employer and union cannot after a reasonable length of time has elapsed for them to find a solution. Especially if a strike has been called and the dispute is still dragging on.

  17. Stephen Berry
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    It was amusing to see a strike occurring because the workers want to keep guards on trains when the driverless car is already becoming a reality across the world. Some will be wondering why we can’t have the driverless train too. That way, we never get strikes!

    My general view on automation is as follows. People will find employment doing what cannot be automated (all kinds of personalized services) while manufacturing, increasingly automated, will shrink as a proportion of both total employment and total output, relative to the non-manufacturing part of the economy.

    Hopefully, the disappearance of the proletariat will give rise to the decline of the proletarian mentality (it’s the duty of society or someone to make sure I have secure employment at high wages), and this might cause politics to become less democratic in a good sense.

  18. Iain Gill
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Driver only trains were originally approved by the regulator when rail travel was falling, when platforms were much less busy, for specific stations and routes where visibility was good, and for much shorter trains.
    It is reasonable to have driver only trains when trains are short, platforms are unlikely to be busy, and platforms are straight with good visibility and mirrors and cameras etc to aid the driver.
    I think some of these Southern routes have platforms with poor visibility, curved platforms etc, long trains, and heavily overcrowded, and in these instances I think it would be good to get the regulator to think again and review the risk assessment of allowing driver only trains.
    How busy does a platform regularly get, how poor does visibility get, how long do trains get before driver only approval is withdrawn?
    Answer these questions first would seem logical?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      specific risk assessment per station by the regulator would be good

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        I’m told that the only fatality to be caused by being caught in doors when the train is moving since the introduction of some driver only trains actually occurred on a train that still had a guard.

        How come the London undergound service has driver only operation throughout when many of the platforms are quite sharply curved.?

  19. Liz
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The rail strike is political in aim. Extreme left wingers or communists, as they used to be called, never give up their desire to take over governments. The have captured the Labour Party here and there is pressure to have an enquiry into the Miners’ strike.
    A few people can create an awful lot of trouble.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      99% of rail workers are not on strike and never have been. They have accepted modernisation (including DOO) without complaint. Privatisation has been successful in preventing contagion by compartmentalising companies and recruiting conservative minded people into the industry.

  20. rick hamilton
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    There is a distinct lack of recognition amongst these union people as to who pays their wages. It is not the company, but the poor devils who are obliged to ride on their trains, otherwise known as ‘customers’. No wonder they want the whole thing nati0nalised again so that the voice of the customer will never be heard.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, I see this headline in the Telegraph:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/19/theresa-may-hits-eu-leaders-refusal-negotiate-amnesty-european/

    “Theresa May hits out at EU leaders over refusal to negotiate amnesty for European citizens already living in the UK”

    An “amnesty” is “an act of forgiveness for past offences, especially to a class of persons as a whole”, so what offence have EU migrants living in this country committed merely by exercising legal rights freely granted to them by the politicians who we British chose to put into power? If it was to be applied to members of our political class then the word “amnesty” could be correct, forgiveness for their past offences in granting those rights to foreigners, but not for innocent people who have just accepted what was an open-ended invitation to come and live and work and start their families here.

    Just as Sir Ivan Rogers gave bad advice to Cameron before his “renegotiation”:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/17/meet-the-sherpas-the-key-people-quietly-negotiating-uk-eu-reforms

    so he gave bad advice to May after the referendum:

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/may-was-warned-against-migrant-guarantees-kskf7p67w

    and is still coming up with bad advice now:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/15/post-brexit-trade-deal-could-take-10-years-still-fail-warns/

    • Mark B
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      In my world, three ‘strikes’ and your out !

      😉

    • rose
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      I think the misuse of this word “amnesty” is deliberate because the people who do it are really wanting an amnesty for illegal immigrants, and hope to get it by muddling up the status of all foreigners here.

      In the same way they wouldn’t call women whose husbands had died, “widows”, because they wanted to lump them in with unmarried mothers as “single parents” and give them all the same status and treatment.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        I think you’re probably right on both scores.

        The Spanish have demonstrated the folly of granting amnesties to illegal immigrants, but certain UK politicians persist with the idea.

  22. Bert Young
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The truth is the Unions do run the Labour Party and the present strike dilemma is purely political . I am half way through Maggies book “The Route to Power” ; she exposed the problem of the politicised Unions when she assumed office and saw no choice but to tackle it head on . Appeasement did not work then and it will not work now ; society has moved on and worker protection ( whatever that meant historically ) does not feature in the same way .

    The present everyday worker is much more of an “individual” ; large numbers work from home , many are detached from central management , wage and pay patterns are more competitive , unemployment is low , the economy is in good shape , opportunities abound . The picture is vastly different to what it was in Maggies’ days . Appeasement and the centrist “one country” of Heath is no longer appropriate , yet the Unions seem to think it is . Ultimately the Law is the answer and it must be amended to make the Union movement unnecessary ; taxes , housing , education and health are issues that focus in the mind of the individual today .

    Political leadership is still the most important aspect of our democracy ; its integrity must reflect the voters will and not falter away when it has the opportunity to express itself . Once it moves into neutral ground , it becomes a victim to minority interests . Theresa has to act !.

  23. Peter Parsons
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    There are multiple sides to the politics of the Southern dispute and it is very one-sided of the original article to only quote from the unions and ignore the political stance of the DfT in this matter:

    http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/senior-department-transport-official-apologises-after-comments-spark-union-and-labour

    It is also worth pointing out that the current industrial action on Southern more than meets the higher thresholds for strike action that this government is introducing.

    It is also worth pointing out that strike actions have always required a majority, unlike politicians who, in their own way, have the ability to inconvenience many more of us.

    Why do politicians think that the thresholds which they will be requiring of unions should not also apply to themselves? After all, it is possible for an individual to gain election to Westminster on less than a quarter of the votes cast and the support of less than one-sixth of the electorate, and for a government to be in power with the overall support of less than a quarter of the voters of the UK.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      The DfT boss did not factor how many can afford to retire early and cash in their SE house equity and move if the going gets bad.

  24. John Fitzgerald
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    One of the things I admire the Thatcher government for was the change to Union law. This was the part where a union representing employees of one company could not join the strike involving the employees of another company (Flying Pickets). Following this piece of legislation the railways were privatised and split into multiple companies. Could you imagine the chaos on the railways if this was not the case today. The RMT and ASLEF have always had a political agenda. This is why they hate the Union Laws as they exist. Blair knew that to change the union laws in the last Labour government would have been stupid! You can see that there is a political agenda in the series of strikes on Southern, no one will actually will loose their job.

    I, for one, still remember the bad old days of British Rail and have no wish to return too them!

    • rose
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      But they are already using the phrase “wildcat strike”.

  25. Chris Parker
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    “It shows a singular lack of seasonal goodwill that so many groups of workers want to take it out on their customers at this time of year.”

    This seems fairly one sided as a comment- picking out the ‘groups of workers’ as *the* problem. One could easily say ‘groups of employers’ and be one sided the other way, and the statement remains factual. There are two sides to every coin, and issues are best resolved by working with the other side rather than demonising them.

  26. libertarian
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Workers have every right to form unions and to withdraw their labour.

    However said workers probably need to think about how successful thats been in the last 50 years as far as their jobs are concerned. Dock workers. miners, British Leyland, etc. Remind me how many people still have jobs in those industries now? The postal workers are just about to put the final nail in their own coffin too.

    Workers need to take control of their unions and stop fat cat union bosses using them as political fodder in their ideological wars

  27. Roy Grainger
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I believe one problem with Southern Rail is that the franchise terms are so generous in terms of state subsidy and indemnity that there is no real financial incentive for the management there to settle the strike either by negotiation or by taking a tough line on the strikers. This is obviously unacceptable. Probably the government should cancel their franchise and make sure any new one is written in a more appropriate way. Medium-term driverless trains should be introduced as rapidly as possible.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      99% of drivers are not on strike and never have been. Trains have not been automated because prohibitively expensive changes to infrastructure would be needed, qualified riders would also be needed (as on ‘driverless’ DLR) and also the provision many more mobile technicians to deal with faults in remote locations, as drivers are trained to do now. There would be no de-unionisation, just a shift from the power of one trade to another.

      Besides, the Tories wish to improve general pay for ‘jam’ people, so removing good work where it does exist would look disingenuous. More drivers, not fewer -reasonable strike law reforms too, please.

  28. Atlas
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I’m not a particular Union supporter per se – but they do have a valid role. So when it comes to Southern Rail it seems that Southern Rail wishes to use a system that may work on short trains stopping at railway stations with straight platforms; however for long trains at curved platforms in a crowded environment (especially on a rainy dark night) I’m not convinced. At my local station the guard can hop out onto the platform, look up and down the train and then get back on board and close the doors. I feel perfectly happy and safe with this arrangement.

    So I conclude that the Union have it right here.

  29. Bob
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Reading this extract from yesterdays debate in Parliament, it appears that the PM’s answer is rather convoluted and perhaps designed to allow “wriggle room”:

    Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley
    “…Will the Prime Minister therefore pledge that when we leave the EU we will not be paying any money towards the EU budget? Even contemplating that would surely be to contemplate betraying what people voted for in the referendum.”

    Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party
    “Obviously, while we remain members of the EU, we will continue to have obligations as members of EU. What is important is that when we leave the EU, people want us to ensure that it is the British Government that decide how taxpayers’ money is spent.”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Which is then glossed in the media as May being prepared for us to continue to pay for the privilege of running a chronic trade deficit with the other EU countries.

  30. Brigham
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Just as our country is getting on it’s feet economically, these union rats are putting it all in jeopardy. In my opinion they are traitors, and should be treated as such.

  31. 37/6
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    The moderate majority of Union members do not wish a trade dispute to become a political one. The righteous issue of ‘health and safety’ is being used to manipulate them. However, the threat to the Guards’ grade through the removal of safety critical competencies is real enough. DOO operation on long distance, highly loaded passenger trains is a false economy.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I hear that Southern was a terrible operator before the dispute, cutting services by 50% and running a management operation in which it is assured Government money regardless of how dire its services. I also hear that the proposed DOO system is not up to scratch, increasing the risk of dragging incidents because the cameras turn off too early.

      • 37/6
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        In view of these things has there actually been an abuse of the right to strike on Southern and if not then does strike law actually need changing?

  32. Juliet
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    These strikes have no relevance to the 70s-80 Miner Strikes. Maybe just a coincidence 4 Strikes happening all at same time at this time of year and parallel to different going on’s with Brexit. No clues as to who will be the biggest winner at the end of the day

    Reminds me of a James Bond movie … some devisive group of people or deluded person uses their influence with smoke and mirror tactics, appears to create order out of chaos to bring a Government to a standstill, and take control, multi players and events to send a message ….

    So Now if we were to add our own extraordinary day of events …

    Week after to week different industry leaders and lobbyist making demands on keeping status quo on to stay in single market and continue with free movement

    And additions of 4 Strikes just more chaotic situations and contagion of disarray

  33. Remington Norman
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    People are now recognising how appallingly we are governed and are tired of political incompetence. The lack of action in dealing with the current wave of strikes is demonstration of this, if any were needed.

    Prisons: known to be in crisis for years; nothing significant done – result we now see.
    NHS: known to be on verge of collapse for years; nothing done – result we now see.
    Armed forces: disgraceful treatment of service personnel (prosecutions and ignoring the military contract in particular) under-resourcing etc; flagged by service chiefs for years – result we now see.
    Justice: injustice abounds. Unnecessarily criminalising of petty offences; lenient sentences or exculpation for more serious crimes.
    Box-ticking: this replaces genuine transformation in many areas; the target culture has supplanted concern for people and progress – education, policing, joblessness etc.
    Education: bad judgements over many years; indiscipline in schools etc. UK among lowest ratings for literacy etc. Result will continue to haunt us until this is address.
    Welfare: continuing welfare dependency culture; no political will to deal with this. System pushes people into dependancy and is a disincentive to work. Years of ‘initiatives’, few of which have had any impact.
    Society: society is falling apart. Communities as useful instruments of social cohesion have been eroded; insistence on equality, diversity, non-discrimination has destroyed the moral foundations of society. Government attempts to force politically correct beliefs and actions have backfired with increased use of regulation and law necessary to restrain and coerce ‘acceptable’ behaviour. The political establishment fails to recognise the existence of this trend.
    Waste: inadequate planning and cost-control has resulted in massive waste in the increasing areas of our lives under government control. IT projects, defence procurement, NHS, over powerful (and often useless) quangos etc.
    Pensions: public sector pensions out of control whilst private sector pensions suffer as a result of Gordon Brown’s raid.
    Politics: voters are tired of corruption, lack of accountability, grossly inflated political patronage, centralisation of power outside parliament and egregious incompetence. The House of Lords is stuffed with intellectual dross and urgently needs reform. Spin has replaced serious debate. Mediocrity routinely accepted as excellence.

    One could go on. The seminal point is that the more the government does, the demonstrably worse it does it. Instead of thoughtful planning, we live in a miasma of constant fire-fighting. We are told that an overriding aim is to devolve decision-making to local level, yet the majority of MPs support membership of the EU – the least devolved or democratic institution imaginable.

    For many, there has to be a radical change in direction and this can only come with political upheaval.

    Is there any wonder that fringe parties are snowballing support.

    • Pleb
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Remington
      “One could go on “.
      Wish you would that was good .

  34. Bryan Harris
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    No it doesn’t go far enough…

    As I keep saying whenever this subject comes up – the Government needs to introduce a new contract between unions and employers – one that makes the unions responsible to a degree for maintaining profitability, and to make them more responsible generally.

    Yes, OK, employers are not always responsible and that needs amending as part of this contract…. Many things could be in it – but effectively we have to get rid of the concept that union barons are free to hold us to ransom whenever they want – driven all too often by political dogma.

    It is high time we looked at all aspect of life in Britain, so that come BREXIT we can start planning in all directions for a better life experience for all.

  35. alte fritz
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Trade Unions have always worked to the far left of centre. That is why we had legal rules on how they could work. How much further can one go with legislation?

    TOCs are unimpressive. They asked for trouble by reducing driver number to the bare minimum. They give the appearance of being happy to run on a shoestring which translates to daily unhappiness for commuters.

    We are stuck in a miserable model predicted, I think, by the late Robert Adley. The best think the government can do is be hard on the TOCs and let the hard left hoist themselves.

  36. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, again, how much longer will we have to put up with this kind of rubbish?

    https://euobserver.com/tickers/136346

    “May does not rule out paying for EU market access””

    When are going to see some sense, such as:

    “May warns EU: you will have to pay for access to UK market”

    What is source for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  37. norman
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I see this as another destructive force against Brexit and the good that could come of it – this time rooted in the far left. They are, in realty, bed-fellows with the liberal establishment, although it may not at first be obvious. But why are the strikers supporting it? I can think of a number of reasons – disillusionment with capitalism being high on the list. Is this the militant wing of the currently muted Parliamentary left? Do not underestimate them! More cause for prayer for our government, to the end of 1 Timothy 2. Dangerous times, indeed, and a dangerous world beyond!

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Aslef and the RMT wanted Brexit.

  38. Prigger
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    There are no free trade unions in the UK.

    Therefore it is for the present government to outlaw the Labour Party or rather various aspects of it which is control of trade unions,- from exercising extra-Parliamentary political/economic actions ie Strike actions. This should be a democracy and power should reside with the democratically elected government.

    If the trades unions were free and in my opinion they should be, then government should not intervene. Free trade unions, though economically destructive sometimes, are a necessary part of the fabric of the body-politic and the body-economic. Without they being FREE, we get into bizarre situations where relatively small numbers of people destroy great wealth and ruin Christmas for tens of thousands

  39. Absolute Socialist
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    There should be more trade unions not less. More trade unionism not less. Though trade unionism entails the existence of trades unions.The Tolpuddle martyrs nor the Niezależny Samorza̡d Związków Zawodowych “Solidarność” ( the Polish Independent Solidarity trades union of Lech Wałęsa would recognise the Object which masquerades itself in the UK as Trade Union.
    It is a sham trade union movement in the UK. Far removed from its noble origins. This Labour Party corruption…the UK trade unions should be stamped on out of existence. Its good administrative and legal aspects can be done by non-partisan charity workers with much greater non-partisan integrity and better non-partisan outcomes. Of course proper trade unions can and should only come into being from the roots upwards, again.

    Officials should however be banned by legislation from membership of political parties and associated “broad” front organisations intimately entwined with political parties and movements. A jail sentence alone should be the only punishment for transgression and the judge disallowed from not imposing it on any grounds whatsoever lest he himself go to jail immediately without appeal. The nonsense has gone on long enough.

  40. Great Scot!
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Theresa May attended a Parliamentary Liaison Committee today receiving questions regarding Brexit negotiations. A waste of time and money as per usual with such committees.

    No question was asked which had not been asked many times previously in normal Parliamentary interaction and been answered similarly ( whether considered then or within the said committee meeting as actually answering definitively as Yes or No ) .

    The SNP member asked a stereotypical SNP question which as always would be valid if the Scottish Independence referendum vote had been for Scottish Independence. But it was not, therefore the question was time-wasting and grandstanding.

    Yvette Cooper made winkling-out questions designed to learn the exact standpoint of negotiations. She cleverly juxtaposed Tory government fixed positions on immigration numbers and the government’s negotiating position in Brexit which, of course, Mrs May could not elaborate upon. Cooper’s questioning was very clever and incisive but obviously a waste of tax-payers money as she had already been told “No” along with her Remainer colleagues in Parliament scores of times that,- the negotiating position would not be revealed.
    The Chairman of the meeting asked similar stereotypical question and received answers which he , Cooper and the SNP member would have answered in exactly the same way had they been in Mrs May’s position.

    At the beginning of the proceedings Mrs May was probably aching to reply to the Chairman of the Committee to his bog-standard heard-’em-before questions: “Brexit means Brexit.” It was the only answer the committee deserved, if any.

    All of the committee should forfeit their allowances for attendance, be fined a month of their salary after tax, and be warned never to repeat the farce again or be debarred from standing for any position in Parliament including that of MP in their lifetimes.

    #@# Mrs May stated an interesting fact to the SNP member:-: That if Scotland voted for Independence, it would automatically mean:

    1/ Leave the EU
    2/ Leave the EU Single Market
    3/ Leave the UK Single Market, this being equal to four times the worth to an Independent Scotland than the EU Single Market.

    It is to be hoped Mrs Sturgeon is not receiving UK tax-payers money for grandstanding. If we wish to see a circus performance or a Christmas pantomime we can pay at the appropriate box-office.

    • Beecee
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      But the wee Scots Lassie is! It is called the Barnet Formula, without which Scotland is bankrupt.

      Time to teach the SNP a hard fiscal lesson.

  41. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I wish we could have some clarity about the form of transitional arrangements which could be put in place for our departure from the EU. I watched Andrew Tyrie asking Theresa May about it earlier and he was consistently missing the point.

    I’ve no objection to a transitional deal in the form of TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS written into a treaty taking us out of the EU to where we want to end up.

    After all the six original EEC countries decided to allow themselves twelve years to fully establish their common market after the 1957 Treaty of Rome had come into force, and those transitional arrangements were written into the treaty; likewise there were various transitional provisions written into the UK treaty of accession to the EEC, as indeed it has been standard practice to write various transitional provisions into all the treaties for the accession of other new member states to the EEC/EC/EU.

    Writing transitional provisions into treaties is commonplace and if they were necessary to smooth the desired change then that would not be a problem; what would be a problem as far as I am concerned would be a treaty which moved us out of the EU but only to some TRANSITIONAL STATE, such as EFTA/EEA, which was not where we actually wanted to end up but where we might nonetheless find ourselves stuck in perpetuity.

  42. norman
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Hooray for the caring professions, Margaret! I wonder if you read the book about Edith Cavell, the WWI nurse, which came out earlier this year (‘Faith Before the Firing Squad’, by Catherine Butcher). There are so many other unsung heroes and heroines, whose rewards are way beyond financial wealth (important though that is, nationally), and whose sacrifices grace all our lives, rich or poor, and bring something great to a nation, hard though the going is.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Cavell

  43. Christmas the Time
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    We beat Germany in WWII more than we could have imagined. They have been numbed into Normalcy-bias . They are being attacked time and again by terrorists. Her answer is to keep her door open, wide open, opening more and more trying to think of the thousand and one reasons why they are not terrorists, why they may have had good intentions, why they may be personally afflicted with some mental ailment which should be pitied.But, Never , never, never, think something…even if obviously elephant in the room true that could be construed as along the lines of her defeated leader in WWII.
    It is time the world tried to forgive Germany. It is in all our interest she now is allowed to wake up from the coma with which we punished her.

  44. Progress of all
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    The BBC, Sky News, CNN and the German Security Services, the latter of which famously stated some time ago that it was inconceivable Extreme Islamic Terrorists would make the dangerous sea crossing to Greece because “it was too dangerous”, have made a quantum leap in their understanding of what occurred in the Berlin Weihnachtsmarkt. First “It woz a truck wot dunnit” to a “A truck called Herbie wot dunnit” thus dismantling the potentially divisive and racist narrative.

  45. David
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I have never voted for the Labour party and I never will but the actions of my employer, AWE plc, left me with no alternative but to join Unite the union. They want to take away the DB pension scheme from people who have worked for them for comparatively low wages, for decades. We have no other voice and as the company refused to negotiate on the DB pension we had no choice but to vote for industrial action. Companies like this could undo all the good work of Mrs Thatcher’s government by forcing more people back into the arms of the unions. If our MPs gave us more support perhaps this could be avoided. One of the sites is in your constituency Mr Redwood, and many of your constituents work there. You’ve made no comment on our strike as far as I can see.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Mrs Thatcher’s Union reforms were excellent and close to the fullest reasonable extent. The recent reform on 50% turnout requirement is also good but should go no further.

      Union liability for strike damage ?

      Yes. That would stop these shenanigans but also put an end to UK worker leverage for good. We would be a different country afterwards.

      The Southern dispute needs looking at again. If workers recruited since privatisation (some of them the willing Latvians that readers here call for) are prepared to forgo pay and risk Union official exploitation (for political ends) over work practices that they have accepted before then perhaps they may have genuine concerns.

  46. Proudhon
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    There are some very unreasonable employers. I’ve worked for one or two of them. I’ve been a member of unions. But for the worst employers a trade union in opposition is not the answer. This can at best cement in place a criminally minded employer kept temporary and partially in check by a trades union “prison warder”.Until the union gets some form of bribe. ( members on company boards hahaha, yeah you’ve been rumbled Corbynistas ). Then the union and the wayward employer go on a robbing spree of workforce and customer, each backing the other with added perks if Labour gets into power locally and nationally. Joint employer trade-union meetings, with expenses, joint “liaison” committees etc etc .
    If a worker is given the absolute right to strike..yes even and especially in what is known as wildcat strikes, the more a nasty employer can be halted, haltered and altered. Some employers actually deserve to be driven out of business by a workforce.
    I have personally worked with staff who deliberately set about destroying an employer even knowing their jobs would be forfeit. Strange but true. The British can be very self-sacrificingly vindictive. I have also seen persons up to and including managerial level deliberately doing individualistic anarchistic actions without any trades union encouragement. It is the first choice of weapon for British workers. It is also deadly to an employer . Not all of them realise the true reasons why they have gone out of business and blame “inflation” “competition” “government policy” “the exchange rate” and with many cowardly UK business people which we have too many, they blame it on Brexit.

  47. John
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Every time there is a train strike there are casualties in hospital as a result of the massive influx of people using other routes. I suspect that the result of the strikes over the last 10 years have cause more deaths and injuries than have happened on the railways over that period.

    Then there is the cost, a strike on the underground is what? £50,000,000 per day. What cost is that to the NHS as a reduction in services?

    Transport affects too many people to be held to ransom.

    A new strike criteria needs to be drafted where those striking are relative in number to those who are affected!

  48. Monty
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    The blame resides with the union members who failed to vote against the blowhard hustlers who see union leadership as a vehicle for their own political and financial advancement. Scargill was a prime example.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      There is a conflation of reasonable concerns about safety, jobs and political ambition. Union officials appear to be overstepping their mandate to go beyond a trade dispute.

      You are right, Monty.

      • 37/6
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Should read: “Union officials have no mandate to get political.”

  49. treacle
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Has the government abolished the practice of making union members opt out of paying a political levy yet? And if not, why not?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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