here and here) my musings on trade unions. A little more on that today though. The Rail Union, RMT, has confirmed that it has rejected Network Rail's latest pay offer. The offer was for a whopping 5.2% pay rise for operations and customer services staff next year and an RPI pay rise in 2012. Interesting.
I find myself again using the phrase 'at a time of national and international austerity', but apparently some people still are yet to open their eyes to the big picture. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow, hewn from the same block as Red Len McClusky, has decreed that "with VAT going up to 20% in January, power and utilities bills going through the roof and expectations that inflation will continue to rise we are looking to make sure that we achieve a pay deal for Network Rail ... staff that protects and improves their standards of living in this time of economic and political instability."
A nice idea. In other words Bob is saying "the economy is rebuilding slowly from a recession, and everyone is going to get a bit poorer but I think my lot are special, so we should get huge pay rises instead, because we can't have RMT members suffering like everyone else." Yup, it appears Bob knows there was some form of economic crisis, he just hasn't grasped the relationship that might have with future pay deals for him and his boys. The fact that pretty much everyone has overspent, public and private alike and a great deal of restructuring and budgeting is necessary lest various institutions, private (Network Rail) or public (HM Government), go down the drain, has passed him by.
Yes, Bob is another of those who would take a chainsaw to the golden goose for a bit of press, some classist grandstanding and his ludicrous salary and then wonder why there were no more golden eggs for him and his union afterwards. It seems there are swathes of society who do not feel the need to do their bit, whether it's actually going out to get a job, or accepting some of the pain necessary to save the country or individual companies from ruin. The latter are most obviously prevalent in these overly strong, militant trade unions.
So, when you next read about strike action from RMT, or the like, have a look at what they are demanding. And it is demanding, not asking, for they hold their companies to ransom like terrorists. The right to strike is a great privilege and should be used accordingly. Instead, it is being abused and the people perpetrating these acts are a disgrace to the workers, the public and the politicians who fought so bravely for that privilege. It was designed as the last resort against an oppressive and unfair employer, not as the first resort to getting paid over the odds when everyone else is taking pay cuts.
Again, I would ask you to remember the Armed Forces (who will also still suffer the VAT increase, rising energy bills and inflation, and many of them on their return from 6 month tours in Afghanistan) are on a 2 year pay freeze, without so much as a squeak of dissent.
This has to stop. Trade Unions are no longer built for purpose and they are led by utterly inappropriate personnel. They have the ability to be great institutions for legitimate and productive representation of workers. The workers must save their unions from themselves though, for no matter what action is taken to attempt another breaking of the unions from the outside, unless they understand why it has become necessary to break them, why they are out of line, they will regrow again the same archaic beast.
Coming in with unrealistic wage demands when all around are tightening their belts is not the action of a union that is there to "fight for its members' interests." Remember this when the picket lines form again, when your lives are disrupted for the sake of trade union greed. Then, if you can't get to work because the trains aren't running, maybe grab a placard and picket the picketers. They must be shown the nation is not with them on this one.