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Strikes: Government will stick - it has nowhere to go

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The winter strikers have, inadvertently, made the Government’s strategy for it.  There are so many strikes, all essentially pleading with ministers to intervene with the big public chequebook; and the government simply can’t do that.

This problem (for the unions) presumably stems from (a) zero inter-union coordination: this ain’t the Revolution; and (b) the relatively new phenomenon of 1-day strikes.  

Time was when strikes (of the non wildcat variety) were indefinite, all-out affairs that had to be planned months in advance, with a big fighting fund laid up to be able to foot the bill for Strike Pay.  In those days, unions couldn’t do much else than coordinate these things, at least to some degree, in the manner of record labels of the same era who would keep “loosely in touch” to avoid big albums being launched competitively in the same window.  They needed mutual aid, not least on the picket lines, from people still drawing a wage.  One major front at a time.

How fragmented everything is these days.

Except, of course, the Government, which is (relatively) monolithic and, after years of nonsenses, quite well versed in messaging: yes we know it’s shitty, but we all have to WFH / tighten belts / look after each other / etc etc, and just get on with things as best we can.  Blitz Spirit Lite (again).  The total inertia of Kier “shoo-in” Starmer, while he waits for everything to fall in his lap at the next GE, is quite helpful in this regard too.  Makes everything seem like some kind of unavoidable natural disaster.

So it looks like that’s what it’ll be: a piecemeal mess with minimal government movement, despite endless careful, ultra-reasonable-sounding union counter-messaging on the lines “all that needs to happen is the government to step in with a bit of compromise: we don’t really mean 19%”**.  Which is gonna continue to fall on deaf ears: because where on earth does that lead the government?  They just ain’t gonna pay out 10% to everyone on the active payroll – even if, perversely, they have done just that for the pension / social security roster.



** There’s another emollient union line being peddled of late: It’s not really about wages, it’s about conditions – just scrap those provocative “reforms” & that’ll do the trick …


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