I had to drive to Hexham last week to stock up on chicken feed and decided to listen to Radio Newcastle on the way. As I started listening, I was left with the impression I had tuned in to a comedy show. It was actually the morning show and guests were in the studio to talk about issues of topical interest. I didn't catch any of their names but one of them was a senior official from Unison and she spent much of the programme advocating the "benefits" as she saw them of a general strike. Quite which planet she lived on was not clear though I doubt she lived on Planet Earth, given the ridiculous comments she made.
The basis of her argument was that as she and her friends did not like the government, and what it is doing, a general strike should be called to get rid of them. Forget democracy, forget the rule of law, forget the fact the Coalition Government was the result of a general election. If she doesn't like the government, and if her like-minded friends don't like the government, it has to be brought down by trade unions with, presumably, union bosses choosing a new government to their own liking. She argued that the government had won all the battles so far with the unions but were all the unions to join together and take joint action, she believed the unions would win.
This nonsense clearly did not have the support of people listening to the programme. They sent in plenty of messages suggesting strikes were not the answer. It is understandable with posturing like this, why union membership is at its lowest for 60 years and is continuing to drop.
Unions can and do play a constructive role when their feet are on the ground and they behave in a responsible manner. Look at the benefits that have come to the car industry with the unions taking a responsible attitude to industrial relations. The sensible people in the union movement must cringe every time one of the extreme union fantasists starts speaking in public. For the rest of us, they provide light relief and entertainment.
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