Has striking ever worked in the long term?

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  • Has striking ever worked in the long term?
  • Premier Icon Sandwich
    Subscriber

    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!

    The local lads in Felixstowe love the container, £50k for crane operators! Yes please. Those that were left benefitted greatly from huge wage increases all due to a strong dockers union.

    Premier Icon postierich
    Subscriber

    The Royal Mail strike has been suspended not cancelled,the management have come back with a better offer, the workers will look at it and vote accordingly 🙂
    Without the union we would not have a 39hr week, 6 weeks of holidays+ BHs 6 mths full sick pay, maternity/paternity.
    Unity is strength 🙂

    Striking is really a last resort, but in this country it seems to be called on a lot, probably because the unions here are so weak. Germany is far more unionised, the unions are much larger and stronger, so they rarely need to call strikes. Workers get much better wages and better protection and quality of life. As a result they’re much more productive, and their manufacturing, and in fact, most industries, outperform us, despite having to pay higher wages. They also have an arguably more generous welfare state, yet have been running budget surpluses, but unfortunately our country doesn’t seem to want t look at models that actually work, rather than having politicians just making up schemes based on their various biases.

    Premier Icon miketually
    Subscriber

    What were pay and conditions like generally prior to unions? What are they like now?

    There’s your answer.

    konabunny
    Member

    (how’s that for sharing the worlds resources to everyone’s advantage)

    It’s not too bad, actually. It’s probably been a bit more successful than the previous millennium of feudalism and other primitive economic systems.

    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.

    I’m not sure a sample size of one is very useful. You might as well ask “does strike-breaking ever work?”, and give the same answer. Is it any more instructive? (No).

    webwonkmtber
    Member

    The current state of perilously poor industrial relations can in a large part be traced back to the unforgivable behaviour of the print unions in the 70s and 80s – to say they took the piss is an understatement.

    It was standard practice for the “troublesome inkies” on Fleet St to fraudulently claim second salaries in made up names, like Donald Duck. When questioned about these tactics the unions would down tools and walk out without warning.

    It was that behaviour that led Murdoch and Thatcher to collude to smash the unions. Of course there is more nuance to teh story than that, but truly the inkies took the piss.

    I am a great believer in unions, but I see few examples of unions covering themselves in glory or being constructive or realistic. And I say this as someone who has previously led negotiations with unions.

    Does striking work? Unfortunately not.

    *I’m now going away to put on my flame retardant suit as I expect dogs abuse for that interpretation of events.

    bokonon
    Member

    I think it depends on what you mean by “work” – does strike action lead to unions getting a better deal for their members – clearly yes, it does, in many cases lead to unions getting a better deal for their members, the threat is often enough, does it always work, no, is that a surprise, no.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I’m now going away to put on my flame retardant suit as I expect dogs abuse for that interpretation of events.

    If it wasn’t for Unions you’d be only allowed to wear you best suit and hat.

    ninfan
    Member

    pleaderwilliams – I think you’ve got a fairly rose tinted view of unions in Germany – Germany has seen a widespread programme of wage and conditions cuts over the past few years, and particularly in the post unification phase – fully backed by the unions (often in return for jobs guarantees)

    The programme of wage moderation actually saw German wages fall by around 4% in real terms through the 2000’s

    webwonkmtber
    Member

    Drac, agreed up to a point.

    I was a union member for about 15 years but I got frustrated in meetings when more time was spent discussing what colleagues in Namibia were up to in the great struggle rather than my own great struggle with endlessly being rostered for double shifts etc etc

    webwonkmtber
    Member

    Sorry, not colleagues, but comrades.

    zokes
    Member

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

    We went on strike down here in Oz a few years back, and noone at the organisation gave a monkey’s. Then, we went back to work, but didn’t do any admin, which was far more effective.

    Funny how the place carried on fine without the admin, and us scientists had much more time to do our real jobs. You’d have thought management would have learned something there….

    ormondroyd
    Member

    So, what are you planning to do with your weekend?

    thecaptain
    Member

    In the long run we are all dead. It is also often impossible to attribute any specific long-term change to a particular action. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that various forms of pressure from the workforce has helped to improve their conditions.

    ormondroyd
    Member

    I like the idea of middle managers sitting in comfortable, air-conditioned/heated offices, taking time to post on a mountain bike site before heading home at 5pm for the weekend, asking if workers’ organisation has ever achieved anything in the long term.

    zokes
    Member

    That irony was not lost on me 🙂

    bokonon
    Member

    There have been a couple of comments above about other forms of industrial action (e.g. not charging for trin tickets, not completing admin) and both of these can be really effective – however in this country, if you break your contract through “partial performance” then an employer can deduct up to 100% of salary, and many do – meaning you may as well be out on strike.

    To answer a very specific question about a clear impact of industrial action – in 2006 UCU took industrial action (consisting of strike and a marking boycott) which won a three year deal on pay from the employer on the basis of an inflation + x agreement. There was no industrial action on pay between the end of that agreement and yesterday, and during that time pay has flatlined – and fallen in real terms by around 13%.

    It appears that the industrial action was effective in winning concessions, and no industrial action led to suppression of wages it has been described as the most sustain suppression of wages in any profession since WWII by Will Hutton writing in The Observer.

    Graph: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/unions/UCU/campaigns/pay2013.png

    edward2000
    Member

    Ive not read anybodys posts but I detest Trade Unions. My colleague used to work in the pits and he didnt want to strike, until Arthur Scargills men intimidated him and his family into striking.

    The unions wanted to close the Grangemouth Plant.

    The unions wont let my girlfriends workplace evlove, siting an unacceptable change in workplace conditions.

    Unions want strikes. A bit of hard work and graft might not go a miss and might get the country stated again.

    The unions need to realise the country needs to MTFU.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    I always think that it is a great pity when relationships between workers and managers/owners are described in terms of relative power etc. Such adversarial relationships are seldom positive ones (to the extent that they exist at all).

    IMO owners/managers have to realise that they have three constituents to satisfy – the obvious one (customers) but EQUALLY the providers of capital (shareholders) and their workers. Each should be considered as vital and essentially equal if you are planning LT success. Unfortunataly that is not often the case, with the latter part of the Troika normally coming last in the order of priority.

    The extent to which strikes work surely depends on the context. IMO the current climate is not conducive to success as perhaps well illustrated at Grangemouth. The supply of labour generally exceed supply so the owners have the upper hand. If capacity was tight and UN low then the situation would be reversed.

    But as I said, thinking along this lines is somewhat depressing albeit a feature of the UK. Unions should have an important part to play in representing the interests of their members. Sadly, I think much of the current activism is misguided especially around pensions. A healthy dose of smelling the coffee and advising members about what needs to be down to prepare for retirement would be much better for the workers than trying to defend the indefensible status quo. Images of King Canute or a giraffe with its neck buried in the sand spring to mind.

    The activities at Grangemouth in all sides were are depressing flash black to the 1970s that we could all do without.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    What have strikes ever achieved apart from improvements in workplace safety, gender equality, pay and conditions, and the fall of communism, eh?

    edward2000 – Member

    The unions wanted to close the Grangemouth Plant.

    Good troll btw.

    ormondroyd
    Member

    I work in America quite a lot, and it’s amazing how much anti-union sentiment there is amongst ordinary working people. “Oh that airline is awful because of the unions”. “I can’t get cheap whojamiflips because of the unions”.

    I always want to shout at them “YOU GET TEN DAYS HOLIDAY A YEAR!!”

    samcheese
    Member

    Thanks to our forefathers striking we are free to display our ignorance of the history of industrial relations on a mountain bike forum instead of spending time either working 15 hour shifts in some industrial deathtrap or watching our children slowly die of consumption in some stinking hovel.

    Premier Icon captain_bastard
    Subscriber

    This springs to mind – the crippling film critics strike (12m 25s in) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jsoOVfRcWE

    Yes the French stricking now has got us more work, we were getting laid off for so many days until they went on strike and now we aren’t. 😆

    ernie_lynch
    Member

    samcheese – Member

    Thanks to our forefathers striking we are free to display our ignorance of the history of industrial relations on a mountain bike forum instead of spending time either working 15 hour shifts in some industrial deathtrap or watching our children slowly die of consumption in some stinking hovel.

    Brilliant 🙂

    b r
    Member

    Striking is usually one symptom of poor management, both at a local and cultural level.

    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.

    Not totally, as you need to also understand the quality aspect.

    skooby39
    Member

    Striking has never worked. Skargill closed more pits than Thatcher, as all heavy coal users switched to other power sources once the disruption started.

    It is no longer the 15th century and workers can travel to the next village to find work or training. Companies can also travel to the village with the cheapest willing skilled and experienced staff. As a company your duty is to its members, as an employee your duty is to keep up your transferable skills, watch the trends and jump ship if a better job comes up. Lazy companies and staff will always lose out.

    The unions would have a chance but even the most hard core bath dodging shop steward still shops at Tesco and Amazon.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    striking has never worked?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_matchgirls_strike_of_1888

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_sewing_machinists_strike_of_1968

    shirley unions, collective bargaining and striking or the threat of strike have given us the entire breadth of uk labour laws?

    stuff like……
    Two-day weekends
    Eight-hour working days
    Maternity leave
    Retirement ages
    Occupational health and safety
    Workplace pensions
    Paid holidays
    Equality laws
    The right not to be sacked because you got married, had a baby, or became ill
    Pay increases
    The minimum wage
    Collective bargaining
    The right for the working classes to organise themselves
    A standard of living above that of 1850s Britain

    Junkyard
    Member

    I always think that it is a great pity when relationships between workers and managers/owners are described in terms of relative power

    you then tell us how they come third and your solution appears to be them surrendering their pension rightssmelling some coffee in a race to the bottom [ with pensions]whilst the other two maintain their status quo. I think a redistribution of the wealth is a better solution and whilst one lot earns it and the other keeps it the power imbalance is ever present.

    Locally I always viewed my rep role as to air the workers feelings with management in an attempt to make it a happier work place for all. No one wants shit bosses and no company wants unhappy poorly motivated workers. In many areas we do want the same things. Honestly I spent more time dealing with angry members making unreasonable demands than I ever did fighting management.
    Lovely work samcheesee

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Strangely, when I was working for HBOS, officially The Worst Bank In The World and in its death-throes with mass redundancies, loss of bonuses, staff losing fortunes in shares etc… All through that they retained a mostly good relationship with the unions. I had my union rep on speed dial in the runup to my redundancy due to lots of localised nonsense, and it worked like a dream version of employee/union relations:

    “Hi, this is Northwind again, some obvious bullshit has occurred”
    “Yes, we agree that is obvious bullshit. Leave it with us”
    and they would speak to their guys, and their guys would speak to some other guys, and within a day or two, a senior manager or HR person would phone up my boss and resolve the bullshit, usually by virtue of saying “that’s obvious illegal bullshit” or “that’s the sort of obvious bullshit that will see us get butthurt in court”

    Now, sure, the unions were also generally agitating and trying to defend workers’ corner in a total losing situation but HBOS mostly didn’t seem to lose sight of the fact that there’s shared interests, and worked pretty much hand in hand with unions, partly to keep people as happy as possible and partly to avoid needless disputes, bad PR and court cases. And they basically seemed to get the fact that when the unions disagreed with them, there was a reason for it, they weren’t just being awkward. In the environment of the time, and with a general environment of hopelessly incompetent and demoralised managers and middle managers, it was a massive deal. Possibly the only thing I ever saw them do right.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    Blimey JY, I know it’s late but please try and read what I said. I was lamenthing the fact that workers often come third not celebrating it!?!?

    But on pensions, I do wish people would be given the proper advice and the opportunity to prepare correctly. This is partly the job of the unions. Clinging on to the unsustainable status quo is frankly absurd especially in the public sector when the gov has already spent your contribution.. The history of Ponzi schemes is well known. Be prepared….striking won’t solve the Ponzi pensions.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    The last one that came close in my previous job, the unions demanded a 4% pay rise and 6% performance bonus based on performance criteria that would guarantee a full payout. Then there was the other one to save the final salary pension scheme for anyone who hadn’t actually left school yet as it was important.

    They were on the local radio debating it – well getting laughed at.
    Sometimes people take things too far

    Junkyard
    Member

    I know it’s late but please try and read what I said.I was lamenthing the fact that workers often come third not celebrating it!?!?

    LOLZ nothing i said suggested you were celebrating this.
    I was lamenting the fact your sympathetic solution to this plight was to suggest they wake up and smell the coffee.

    The unsustainable status quo could equally be redressed by taking more from the wealthier two of the troika and giving it to the poorer ones whose plight you lament and help redress this imbalance.

Viewing 33 posts - 41 through 73 (of 73 total)

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