RE: ‘Why striking workers need to move with the times’ article, 23 July 2015.
Yes, withdrawing your labour is a fundamental right for everyone in a democratic society. A right, hard fought for over a long period of time, principally by trade unions.
Trade unions have moved with the times and use strikes often or not as a last resort measure. Going on strike is a serious thing for everyone and losing a day or more’s pay is not something most people, especially in these times of austerity, would treat lightly.
Trade unions were created to protect peoples working rights and conditions. All the power is with the employers, the worker on his/her own a has no power at all. By being a member of a trade union provides some form of protection for workers.
Over the last few decades trade unions have been stripped of their rights, the latest proposed Trade Union Bill is just the latest raft of legislation used to diminish workers rights.
The point of strikes are that they are disruptive because they are the one most effective and last negotiating card the trade unions can play to get an agreement. What employer is going to take any notice of any strike action that does not disrupt - not many, I don’t think!
Sadly, too many people are not members of trade unions and so put up with low wages, long hours and poor working conditions and are too scared to complain to their bosses in fear of losing their jobs. As a result, we have a low wage economy that has forced many people into zero hours contracts and into using food banks to help feed their families.
When was the last time you heard of a call centre or shop workers calling for better pay and conditions?
There are many good employers, who recognise and work well with trade unions in resolving work issues, but there are also many bad employers who treat their workforce very poorly and are powerless to change that situation.
We may have moved on to an on-line, 24 hour society but when it comes to the workplace we have gone back in time to a ‘Dickensian’ world of work. A decent workplace might be worth the price of a bit disruption, once in awhile.
Iain Dickson, chairperson, North Sussex & East Surrey Trades Union Council (formerly Crawley Trades Union Council), Crawley
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