23 June 2022, The Tablet

Don't bash the strikers

Union Militancy


After a long period of quiet, trade union militancy is back in fashion. So is “union bashing”. The rail network in Britain faces a summer of disruption and paralysis, pitting the interests of those who run it against the interests of the travelling public. The Conservative government sees an opportunity here to resurrect the formula that worked so well for Margaret Thatcher, turning trade
union leaders into public enemies.

But how the public will react to this is anybody’s guess. The cost of living crisis, combined with high and rising inflation, is impoverishing everyone, travellers included. Many of them will ask, “Why isn’t my union standing up for my interests, as the rail unions are for theirs?” or even, “How can I join a union that will defend me like they are being defended?” Indeed, to be offered a two or three per cent pay rise with inflation running at between eight and 12 per cent, as it soon could be, is to be asked to accept a painful drop in one’s
standard of living. An individual may be powerless to say No.

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