While America was indulging in the greatest political spectacle in the world on Tuesday this city saw a return to some of the darker days of the Callaghan administration and the mass strike action that has crippled Britain in the past.
The unions claimed 20,000 were striking which should seem like a pretty impressive number. It would have been if they all bothered to attended. But I only saw about 2000 on the picket line; 18,000 clearly aren’t that bothered by the whole thing eh? And judging by some of the smiling faces on the front of most local papers we shouldn’t be to concerned about these peoples resolve. In fact I have decided to call ‘a nice day off people’ instead of ‘strikers’.
The strike is over new pay grading to encourage fairness and close down the inequalities still seen across the gender divide. The Unions claim that there will be mass wages cuts but in reality about 10% will see a reduction with the rest either rising or staying the same. Many of the biggest rises will be seen by the lowest paid. The majority of council employees have already returned there new contracts. But as with all union activity, the mere fact that a majority are happy is not enough.
Some of the hardest hit by the strike were school children (though I don’t quite think they would agree with me here) with a 134 schools closed overall. Teachers across the city stood up with all the inclusive socialist patter they could muster and said “Comrades, balls to these kids education! In three years time I will be three quid a year worse of them I am now if we don’t take inflation in to account! Who’s with me!!”.
Labour leader Albert Bore told the ‘nice day off people’ that he would have thrown £80 million more into the pay deal. Err, If this isn’t the best example of why we should keep the current Conservative led coalition then I would like to hear it! I mean, if the current administration can get the job done for £80million less (that’s £80 million!!) then why on earth vote for Bore?
In a bizarre example of particularly bad leadership the 41 Labour members of the city council decided to take part in the ‘day off’ instead of debate the measure in the council chamber.
The naïve sixth form politics that led to this show of solidarity reinforced their selflessness; at best this was a fettering of their duty to all of their other constituents, not just the minority that work for the council (a minority that is further reduced when you consider that he majority of council employees have returned their new contracts).
The Birmingham Post reported that two Labour councillors were ‘given “special dispensation” to cross the picket line’ to attend the debate. At what point did our elected representative have to get permission from Union leaders to do anything?
How sad is it when our elected leaders, many of them having spent all their professional life in politics, think that their objectives are better served by staying outside the democratic process than engaging in it. Then again, when you have already lost the moral and empirical arguments perhaps their decision to stay away was tactical. Like all union activity; the only people that matter to them are themselves regardless of hyperbole.
At the end of the day why were they there? Greed mainly. They want more money and they want it now. Regardless of the council tax rise that poor families will have to suffer and that impact it will have on business rates – forcing more companies to steer clear of Birmingham which in turn means a loss of even more employment opportunities. They have no regard for the fact that Cllr Rudge and the other leaders of Birmingham City Council have a fiduciary duty to look after every tax payer, not just those that work for the Council directly.
On an individual level you have to ask yourself would I be saying this if my salary was dropping. Well yes I would. If I was that annoyed I would get a new job. Take my skills, experience and qualifications on to the open job market and go somewhere else. Fortune usually favours the brave. But behind this strike there is something else. On the one hand you have the disgruntled unions that have glimpsed a new cause to get their claws into. Their ambitions of power have always masqueraded as protection. And on the other the lazy, something-for- nothing culture that is slowly eating in to the fabric of this country. People today think that if they’re not happy all they have to do is shout loud enough and they’ll get what they want.
We should be congratulating the City leaders for stamping down on inequality in the work place and for having due regard to tax payers across the region in the long run.
Any way, later in the day it started raining (God obviously isn’t a union man) and then our newly converted ideologues decide they didn’t want to get wet and went home for a nice day off.