Has striking ever worked in the long term?

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  • Has striking ever worked in the long term?
  • JEngledow
    Member

    The news seems to be full of unions announcing strike action, but it also seems to be the same groups that keep striking (teacher, fire brigade, train drivers etc). In most cases I agree with the cause, but can’t help thinking that strike action doesn’t appear to work (if it worked then the same unions wouldn’t have to keep doing). So, has striking ever actually worked in the long run?

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    but it also seems to be the same groups that keep striking

    Not every profession can strike effectively so you’ll notice, say, the fire brigade striking even if it isn’t that often really (is it not something like a decade since there was any really industrial action from the FB?) because its an essential service, they’re nationwide, and its very news worthy.

    I’m an artist. Believe it or not theres actually and artists union here in scotland. But I don’t think if me and my comrades withdrew our labour anyone would notice or care, so striking isn’t a tool some groups can use.

    JEngledow
    Member

    maccruiskeen, I agree that there are only certain professions that can strike effectively (and shit is it really that long since the last fire brigade strike, doesn’t time fly 😯 ), but has strike action ever resulted in any long term benefit to the strikers?

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    no. and yes.

    everyone loses out short term, but i think that if you roll over and let them do as they wish, they know theres no fight in the workforce and will be more likely to implement whatever other nasty little schemes they think of with no consequences.
    if they know that to try and implement something nasty will lead to ‘another fight like last time’ then i honestly do think theyd think twice about it…….and then do it anyway 😀

    bikebouy
    Member

    No, it just exasperates the inevitable.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I think it makes sense for state employees eg teachers etc as there is an effective monopoly of employer ie there isn’t a significant market for their roles outside of the state. With private industry employees, they can often go elsewhere if they don’t like their employer etc.

    I think the fact striking is legal suggestsit mayhave worked at sometime.

    wilko1999
    Member

    More about standing up for your perceived rights I think regardless of the outcome

    ernie_lynch
    Member

    That’s how workers on good wages and conditions manage to get to that level, workers with an inability to take effective industrial action tend to be on low wages and poor conditions. Once it has been established that workers have a strong leverage through industrial action then striking is rare, take ASLEF as an example.

    The news seems to be full of unions announcing strike action

    if it worked then the same unions wouldn’t have to keep doing

    Well that’s clearly not true. There are millions of trade unionists and strikes are extremely rare, and when they do occur they are almost always just for one day, they are almost never indefinite until the dispute has been resolved. As a consequence wages are falling and not keeping up with inflation.

    It is extremely difficult to organise a strike in Britain. The law requires all sorts of information to be given to the employer such as advance notice, the numbers involved, precise location, etc, everything is stacked in the employers favour to minimise the effect of a strike. It’s far easier to sack people, as Grangemouth proved.

    The question which needs to be asked is does leaving all the power in the hands of employers, and allowing tax exiles to sack at will, ever work all term ?

    EDIT : I think one day strikes and returning to work without resolving the dispute are probably a complete waste of time, long term. It just provides papers like the Sun a stick to beat unions with and employers can simply treat them like another royal wedding bank holiday.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    Like prog rock, it seemed like a good idea in the 70’s, where it enjoyed considerable success. Then very much falling out of favour in the 80’s, eliciting something of a backlash, then became a forgotten irrelevance for a couple of decades, before being reappraised and now enjoying something of a renaissance

    johnellison
    Member

    Like prog rock, it seemed like a good idea in the 70’s, where it enjoyed considerable success.

    Really??? Examples???

    bikebouy
    Member

    “YES” 😆

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    JEngledow – Member

    The news seems to be full of unions announcing strike action

    Oh go on, tell us about all the many many strikes that have been in the news?

    jekkyl
    Member

    Pink floyd?

    Premier Icon steveoath
    Subscriber

    I read somewhere that instead of striking, French train staff let passengers on the trains without tickets. Has the bonus effect of getting Joe Public onside, instead of pi55ing everyone off. That’s got to be more successful at getting point across to your management than withrawing labour. (Obv knock on effect wouold be tix prices go up!).

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I read somewhere that instead of striking, French train staff let passengers on the trains without tickets.

    I like that!

    Mind you here, they’d have the police lined up and just arrest everyone without a ticket.

    mudshark
    Member

    That’s how workers on good wages and conditions manage to get to that level

    Are we talking blue collar here? The lower the skill required to do a job the greater the need for unions with some strength if employees are to earn more than the market dictates.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    ^ unforutnately for them, that tactic is a bit difficult for the grangemouth workers to pull off

    ninfan
    Member

    I think its been proven quite effectivley recently that its not just the employees who can up sticks and go elsewhere…

    One of the biggest issues is the golden goose principle that if workers price themselves out of the market, then sooner or later they will be replaced – the best example of course being the dockers, all the strikes in the world wouldn’t save their jobs once the shipping container was invented!

    Robot welders in car factories, CNC machines instead of lathe operators – all these things happened because there was a tipping point at which it was cheaper to use the machine than a person – and striking for higher wages and better conditions is only going to bring that closer.

    In the future, with technology becoming ever cheaper we’ll see examples like the london underground, where the investment to create driverless trains is getting very close to reality (and already is on the DLR). What are ASLEF going to do then?

    pilotless planes is already close to reality, expensive doctors will at some point be replaced by ‘star trek’ medical scanners, the list goes on… Its an inexorable march of technology that striking won’t prevent.

    When the machines do all the work, what will the people do?

    El-bent
    Member

    No, it just exasperates the inevitable.

    Spoken like a little sheep from the great flock called the British workforce.

    Does your employer know you are slacking on here? Get back to work! 😉

    One of the biggest issues is the golden goose principle that if workers price themselves out of the market,

    Well, if we are going to compete with the nations of the far east like your favourite Tory scum, politicians keep saying and not our ACTUAL rivals in the near continent, then you would have a point.

    JEngledow
    Member

    Oh go on, tell us about all the many many strikes that have been in the news?

    Just from the last two days on the BBC website:

    Fire Brigade

    University Staff

    Royal Mail (although cancelled)

    Indonesians

    French Wendy-ballists

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    When the machines do all the work, what will the people do?

    Well we can either find a fairer way of sharing the worlds resources to everyone’s advantage. Or just allow a small elite live like kings while the majority are treated like vermin.

    Just letting the “masters of the universe” trample all over us will surely result in the second option becoming reality.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    JEngledow – Member

    Just from the last two days on the BBC website:

    2, in the UK. An autumn of discontent eh.

    DrJ
    Member

    I think the fact striking is legal suggestsit mayhave worked at sometime.

    Surely the fact that a lot of striking is now ILLEGAL suggests it was very effective back before Thatcher upped the stakes by having the cops assault strikers?

    ninfan
    Member

    Well, if we are going to compete with the nations of the far east like your favourite Tory scum, politicians keep saying and not our ACTUAL rivals in the near continent, then you would have a point.

    But they’re not our actual rivals

    Sure, in the short term we can offshore a job to China, but at some point wages go up, their workers conditions get better and China is no longer significantly cheaper to produce there (beginning to happen right now!) so it gets offshored to India and their wages go up, conditions get better and its no longer significantly cheaper to produce there then the same with Africa, (how’s that for sharing the worlds resources to everyone’s advantage)

    The fact remains that our actual rivals in the long term are the machines that we’ve created – because when the job can’t be done abroad, then there’s a tipping point where technology ultimately strives to replace it.

    Tell me, do you think that farriers going on strike would have stopped the car replacing the horse? Farmworkers versus the combine harvester?

    Did the luddites manage to save their jobs?

    JEngledow
    Member

    2, in the UK. An autumn of discontent eh.

    Actually it’s 3 in the UK as the RM strike is still in the news! I was just saying that I’ve noticed strikes being mentioned in what feels like every news bulletin on the radio recently, but either way I wasn’t saying it’s a problem, I was just asking whether strike action works (and now I think about it, what is the real long term objective of strike action?)

    Premier Icon jamj1974
    Subscriber

    Well we can either find a fairer way of sharing the worlds resources to everyone’s advantage. Or just allow a small elite live like kings while the majority are treated like vermin.
    Just letting the “masters of the universe” trample all over us will surely result in the second option becoming reality.

    Yep.

    gwaelod
    Member

    The philipinos got rid of a dictatorship by taking all their money out of the bank and keeping it under the mattress and banging saucepans out of the windows every night.

    edit – I read it in Republican Party Reptile so it must be true.

    withdrawing money from banks does seem to be a powerful wake up call to the powers that be though.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    They’re only in the news so much because they’re so rare.

    Does it work now? Depends. I was out yesterday with Unison, over a pay deal which I am personally ambivalent about (we have good terms and conditions to compensate). It’s a long-term negotiation and the strike’s not going to change anything immediately but it all goes in the cake.

    The question “has striking ever worked”, historically yes, it’s been a hugely powerful tool. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have such repressive anti-strike laws, governments have tried to ban strikes for as long as they’ve existed.

    El-bent
    Member

    Sure, in the short term we can offshore a job to China, but at some point wages go up, their workers conditions get better and China is no longer significantly cheaper to produce there (beginning to happen right now!) so it gets offshored to India and their wages go up, conditions get better and its no longer significantly cheaper to produce there then the same with Africa, (how’s that for sharing the worlds resources to everyone’s advantage)

    I see. So what you’re saying is that all our rivals will end up like us, with the same sort of problems associated with machines taking over the jobs and similar standard of living.

    So, If we will all be similar and therefore fairly equal, why this “workers pricing themselves out of the market” business then? All we have to do is keeping doing the things they don’t and wait for them to catch up, thus giving us a bigger market to sell our specialist services to.

    Of course I would interject here that cheaper workers with less rights that were fought for by unions=more profit.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    ohnellison – Member
    Like prog rock, it seemed like a good idea in the 70’s, where it enjoyed considerable success.
    Really??? Examples???

    Well it was striking miners, amongst others who brought down the Heath government. I don’t know about you, but I’d define booting out a Tory government as the very pinnacle of success. If only that were a proposition now to see the back of Dave and chums, before they can totally dismantle the welfare state and the NHS, and privatise hand absolutely everything over to their greedy profiteering mates to asset strip, then sell back to us at a massive profit

    gwaelod
    Member

    But they’re not our actual rivals

    Sure, in the short term we can offshore a job to China, but at some point wages go up, their workers conditions get better and China is no longer significantly cheaper to produce there (beginning to happen right now!) so it gets offshored to India and their wages go up, conditions get better and its no longer significantly cheaper to produce there then the same with Africa, (how’s that for sharing the worlds resources to everyone’s advantage)

    The fact remains that our actual rivals in the long term are the machines that we’ve created – because when the job can’t be done abroad, then there’s a tipping point where technology ultimately strives to replace it.

    Tell me, do you think that farriers going on strike would have stopped the car replacing the horse? Farmworkers versus the combine harvester?

    Did the luddites manage to save their jobs?

    Yes to both of these…but

    globalisation results in a leveling of standards between nations – but chinese standards don’t have to rise to western standards…western standards can fall to chinese levels…more likely a common ground will emerge somewhere between…albeit nearer the chinese end, than the current western end..

    however as you point out…the next battleground is casual unskilled labour….the other night there was a film inside a tesco home shopping distribution centre…minimum wage guys picking tins off shelves to fulfill orders….obvious place to mechanise…in a few years there won’t be any minimum wage supermarket jobs…..driverless cars mean the delivery drivers/taxi drivers/bus drivers are all jobs of the past and not of the future.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    Will we all finally have jetpacks by then?

    ninfan
    Member

    Well, if we all had jetpacks, then ASLEF would really be screwed wouldn’t they 😀

    khani
    Member

    When the machines do all the work, what will the people do?

    According to tomorrow’s world when I was a kid, we’ll all be going to the beach in flying cars and have loads of leisure time to do what we want, robots would do the housework and world starvation and poverty will be eliminated..
    In reality the minority will be obscenely rich and the majority will be in poverty, and the powers that be won’t GAF if you live or die, a bit like now actually..

    mcboo
    Member

    One of my pals (he’s on here occasionaly) works for London Underground, is a member of the RMT. Short working week, I think something like 50 days leave, very good pay.

    I ask how come they get all that?

    “Strong unions”

    Some workplaces lend themselves to the staff imposing leverage, many dont. Before we all start rushing to the barracades, take a glance at France. As we all know they love a bit of strike action and are very proud of that tradition. But French industry go to extraordinary lengths not to take on new staff because of industrial relations laws. Even in the boom years French enemployment was rarely below 8%, it just hit 11%. Which is fine if you are employed (often by the state) but bloody awful if you are on the outside looking in. Not much Fraternite there…..

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    but has strike action ever resulted in any long term benefit to the strikers?

    Well… the other string to my bow is I work in film and tv. The UK barely has a union for that workforce, Bectu has a hand in BBC studio staff but the larger freelance diaspora is un-unionised. That means a standard 72hr, 6 day week contract from production companies (compared to the 40 hr 5 day weeks in most of the rest of Europe) no formal arrangements for over time, producers just make it up on the fly. I’ve never seen more than a quarter of what is apparently standard rate for the work I do. And I’ve never seen a contract before the last day of filming.

    Its a shame really as it doesn’t really make for more economical film making, it just makes room for a shambles at the top level, a European production can get as much in the can in 40hrs as a UK can in 72hrs. The European producers and directors that can’t plan, resource and schedule a production properly….. come to the UK to shoot.

    project
    Member

    It used to get better conditions and sometimes better pay for the workers,now most strikes seem to be political, as a way of showing this failed governmnet the workers are not happy,but strangely those striking or threatenening seem to be quite well paid, compared to care workers,skilled trades,shop staff and catering staff.
    But then if they ever went on strike, theyd be branded as evil by the media.

    ti_pin_man
    Member

    The short answer is no, and thatcher proved this with the miners. Unions are a good idea but, like communism, the human condition of greed /capitalism will win through. Striking makes a point but I dont recall it ever winning a battle here.

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