Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why are there so many strikes at the end of a Labour government?

Strikes strikes and more strikes

A very good question at today's PMQs from Michael Spicer.

And the answer?

As per, Gordo ducked the question, preferring to talk about how many more working days were lost under the Tories.

Which is true: in 2007 we lost 1.03m working days to industrial action, a lot less than during the Thatcher 1980s, when we lost an average of 7.2m pa. But of course, Thatcher was taking on and beating Labour's union paymasters, including King Arthur's NUM. Thank God.

The answer to the question actually asked is that in the final months of the last Labour government, the Winter of Discontent lost us 29.5m working days. Which was miles worse even than the monstrous 12.9m pa lost during 70s as a whole.

Things are shaping up quite nicely for Gordo to challenge that record. Although he clearly lacks even Callaghan's backbone, so it's just as likely we'll have a series of massive public sector pay cave-ins. A point not lost on the public sector unions, who are talking about re-opening pay deals already agreed to reflect the new inflation realities.

So, just to recap, you will need candles, emergency food supplies (such as tinned corned beef and sliced peaches in syrup), flared trousers, kipper ties, and Krugerrands.

PS Tanker drivers aside, most of the forthcoming strikes will be in the public sector. At nearly 60%, the union membership rate is around four times higher in the public sector than in the private. And as we blogged here, the average public sector worker goes on strike well over 100 times more frequently than his private sector counterpart.

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