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Thursday, 7 August 2008

So let's all stop work.That's bound to help

This chap is Derek Simpson who runs a big union called Unite.

As you can see from his glowing countenance, whoever else is suffering from the present troubles, it is not Derek. But he plans to make sure everyone else does.

In a newsletter headed "A striking difference" he is full of glee, saying:

"Under normal conditions, an edition of @ctivist might contain one or two reports of pay disputes. This one includes seven."

They are all making a similar point: a cut in living standards is unacceptable. And with inflation now touching 4.6% - the highest for 16 years - they are right to make that stand for decent pay.

They are also right to ignore the calls by employers organisations for pay restraint. Council workers must not pay the price for a crisis that big business has caused.

By bidding up the price of oil to $150 a barrel, speculators in the oil futures markets are doing far more to push up inflation than council workers in Hackney.

Yet little action or pressure is brought to bear on international traders.

Irresponsible lending by finance companies has created far more economic instability than any action by NHS physiotherapists.

Yet Adam Applegarth, the man whose disastrous business strategy brought Northern Rock to its knees and now threatens the jobs of thousands of Unite members walks away with a £1m pay off.

How can this be justified?"

Now I'm with you about Applegarth, Derek. And for that matter about the useless wretch who is walking away with a huge bonus for failing to sort out the railways. Not to mention the Great Bliar, who has done extremely well from promising everything and delivering nothing.

Not long ago The Economist ran a perceptive editorial about privatised profits, socialised debts. The vultures- e.g. Appleyard of Northern Rock - take the profits, we carry the can.

Unite's solution - strikes by public service people - has been tried before a few times, most spectacularly during the Callaghan administration.

It was public service unions that left us with unburied dead and so on. Unite's leaders are just another kind of vulture, sitting in their headquarters and between drinks arranging chaos that solves nothing. Strikes are the modern economic equivalent of the medieval practice of bloodletting; they solve nothing and eventually kill the patient. Unite's members may go on strike; Derek will still get his fat pension; he has nothing to lose.

What Unite and the other unions are fighting for is the right to secondary striking and all the other folly that brought Britain to chaos and were a Godsend to Mrs. Thatcher.

I resent furiously the fact that over the last 11 years nearly a million new people have entered public service, often in meaningless jobs - leaving those of us who work with higher taxes, lower pensions and more hours to work to pay for them all.

If Unite wants to fight for anything, it should be something that prevents the Appleyards and for that matter the directors of public bodies like Railtrack or great bureaucratic tangles like the Royal Mail from grabbing big money for incompetence.

But not for a return to misery.

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