How can we decide whether strikes are justifiable?

The global recession has resulted in numerous strikes around the world. On June 30th there will be public sector strikes in the UK, and up to a million people are thought to join in. Yet there are strong voices and arguments both for and against the strikes. And that argument should most certainly be had. So what do you think? Are strikes justifiable in the midst of these cuts?

2 comments

  • Conservative AMs seem to think withdrawing their labour and walking out is appropriate if your not happy, so as they are leading by example I think they would appear to support striking. I however think that resorting to such a nuclear option is not optimal for our international competitiveness. I hope rational humans should rarely if ever need to indulge in this option and should be able to build strong relations and co-operate well this is my opinion.

  • Good point about the Conservatives. They do rather often seem hypocritical don’t they?

    Whether or not there needs to be a strike on the other hand is tricky. Clearly you’re right that it’s not optimal for economic performance. And indeed I do question what it’s going to achieve. But I don’t blame those who are organising such action. I blame the Coalition’s (largely Conservative) economic strategy, marginalisation of those the unions represent, and their general method of governance.

    The public sector is the only place where unions are still strong, and they need to keep this hold. Unions are not just about strikes as those on the right seem to think. In fact no responsible union leader will ever say they want a strike. It’s always the last option, and as such it’s relatively rare compared to everything else they do. There are lots of other things that unions do before hand, and they only resort to strikes (particularly on this scale) when they feel completely backed into a corner by the Government. We all know that even if the Coalition do have a plan B (which rumours whisper they do), they cannot afford to be seen to budge on their plan A while they have so much political capital invested in it (particularly as Osborne is more of a politician than an economist). So the strike is unlikely to do more than create a little sympathy, and hopefully make politicians work harder to look at how they’re neglecting certain segments of the population at present. That hardly seems worth the economic upset it will cause right? On one hand yes. And Cable was of course right to say (whether or not you believe it was a veiled threat) that those on the right will use such a strike to argue for the further curbing of union’s powers. But on the other hand what else can the unions do? They exist to protect their members, and what we’re now seeing are the biggest cuts in almost a century, with much of them targeted at the public sector, and crucially investment. On top of that there’s a a legitimate argument for saying that the Coalition’s economic strategy is extreme an unbalanced. So what would people think if the unions didn’t strike now? They would be marginalised, and slowly weakened. Why join a union when it’s seen to do nothing to protect your friends’ jobs?

    Would I personally organise a strike? No. I agree with you that it’s simply not an optimal solution. Do I sympathise? Absolutely! Would I join in with the protests on the day? Again, absolutely! There’s an important message to convey, and unfortunately it takes action such as this to get that message properly covered in the press.

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