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Summer of Discontent - will it be broadly supported by the public, or a big mistake for the Unions?

Having a few miles on the clock, sadly I can remember the winter of discontent in 1978 plus all the industrial strife of the 1960's through to the middle 80's.  In the end the Unions were largely tamed, much legislation was introduced to curtail strike action.

I don't like seeing living standards reduced, pensions being eroded. On the other hand many if not most in the private sector will have experienced both.  When I read of Union bosses claiming they have widespread public support, I wonder if they aren't making the same mistake that Scargill and co made in the 70's and 80's. In the end public sympathy was undermined by the affect the strikes had on peoples day oto day lives. 

I can remember countless rail strikes and walk outs. They had the opposite affect to perhaps what the Unions planned and the general public to a large degree became unsympathetic - voted for Thatcher and the Tories in greater numbers.

I am absolutely in favour of working groups striking if they have to, but the co-ordination of indefinite strikes that is being suggested is a huge gamble which may not pay off.

Any thoughts?
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    I agree with the Unions on this one.
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    Can't stand union strikes. Go to work like the rest of us.
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    Big mistake. They'll get very little sympathy if they start disrupting the lives of ordinary hard-working folk who have already experienced - and are still experiencing - financial hardship these past few years.

    For once, just for once, I would like a union to take the wider view and do what's right for the ordinary man in the street - not just exclusively serve their members self-interests and their leaders over-inflated egos. I thought that's what unions were for, a long time ago, but they seem to have become too inwardly focussed over the years.

    Plus then there's Bob Crow, who thinks he's a modern day Scargill. Well if that means he gets a kicking off the old bill then that will do for me.
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    It's a good question Bing. I work in the public sector (NHS) and the general morale is very low indeed. When the two year pay freeze was announced it caused barely a ripple of discontent as I believe most accepted the inevitability of such an action. What really is going to test the workforce is the pension issue. I doubt that there will be an overwhelming groundswell of public support for public sector workers particularly when many see their pensions as unsustainable and unfair but I think you wil find that many public sector workers salaries are generally lower to those similar jobs in the private sector and the trade off has always been a better level of job security and pension against a more equal level of pay. Those are the perceptions and I can only see confrontation looming. I doubt that the NHS wil be particularly militant because that's not our way but I do expect other public sector groups going all the way with this one. Great chance for the Tories to screw down the unions once again in a climate where they will find few allies. An ugly autumn and winter ahead methinks.
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    Like many people I sympathise with the argument that public sector workers are being penalised while the banks who caused much of the economic problem get tax-payer bail outs and still manage to pay themselves huge bonuses.

    It is unfair but striking will not help and it will not obtain public support.

    Unions can strike all they like but it won't alter the fact that the public sector is too big and too expensive and that UK plc is skint and there is no money left in the kitty to pay for it.

    We often think of the public sector as over-worked and dedicated nurses, doctors, police officers, firemen and teachers but what about all the nappy co-ordinators, stake-holder liason managers, diversity co-odinators, strategy champions, climate change officers and the rest of the jobsworths having meetings with each other and sending emails justifying their existence?

    Not to mention pompous senior managers on vast salaries and gold plated pensions building bureacratic empires at our expense.  

    The NHS is  the largest public sector organisation in the world behind the Chinese PLA. Not everyone is employed as a front line medical worker. Anyone who uses it knows that too often it is characterised by superb front line medical staff surrounded by an army of cretins with clipboards. The inefficiency and waste is just breathtaking.

    When Greece and Ireland have defaulted on their sovereign debts, the Euro implodes and your mortgage payments have just doubled overnight and your house halved in value a few strikes from bolshy train unions still in 1960's time warp will be pretty irrelevent anyway.

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    All this will do is inconvenience the people it is supposed to be supporting.

    The country is in trouble financially due to the previous Governments crazy spending. We now have to economize, and knuckle-down to make things better.

    We have a "hold your hand out society" that thinks stuff should come for free. Blair and Brown created a benefit dependent society under the banner of "taking children out of poverty" and "supporting families with young children", but instead, we have created a culture where people don't see gainful employment as worthwhile. In order to massage the unemployment figures, Labour moved tens of thousands of people onto incapacity benefit instead of jobseekers allowance - and now we wonder why nobody wants to fill suitable available jobs.

    Of course there are genuine cases, and our country is famous for creating a safety net to support these people temporarily when hard times occur, ...BUT......

    Drive around and look at people who can't get a job, wearing £100 trainers, showing off £100 tatoos, and talking on a £200 mobile and ask yourself how this is possible.

    A Summer of discontent will destabilise the coalition government and make us look like a 3rd world country - and the only people with their dustbins unemptied will be the regular working man, who is trying to get to work despite the train/bus/tube strikes to keep his family going.

    Lords, MP's, bankers etc will not be inconvenienced in the slightest, but tourism and inward investment from overseas will be jepoardised  so that a few anarchists and students can turn up for city rallies and thrown bricks at policemen.

    Like I always say on here.

    1) use your vote - people died so that you have the right to decide.
    2) contact your MP directly and tell him/her what your views are.
    3) buy British whenever possible
    4) get financial management help/training if you think you need it to balance the family budget.
    5) re-use, return, or recycle.

    A bit like our being in L1 and having no money........ we can't expect Man U etc etc to turn round and give us cash/players for free. We have to dig-in and tough it out and make ourselves a success again.
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    Good post Valiantphil, particularly the bit about trainers, tatoos and mobiles.
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    The private sector "ordinary workers" as opposed to "fat cats" are often worse off than "ordinary" public sector workers in that they do not have company pensions of any sort and have to work longer than their equivalents in the public sector.

    They will be the people inconvenienced by strike action so are unlikely to be too sympathetic.

    On the other hand public sector worker will no doubt sympathise with fellow public sector worker.

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    Interesting question. Morale in the NHS is undoubtedly very very low. Part of the deal I took on in the early 60's was that I had to work very hard for pitiful money and the meanest  holiday allowance in Europe.  But it was to be a 'job for life' and I would get a meagre pension at the end of it. If I now had to accept working longer for less pay and paying more for my pension, I think I would be pretty miffed, especially as the wretched investment bankers seem to have profited very handsomely. The Tories want harsh cuts now, to enable them to buy us off nearer the next election. Whether or not they'll get away with it, I really don't know. I always refused to join strikes throughout my hospital career and I suspect it would be no different now if I was still working. But then I left the NHS and went self-employed for 10 years as I couldn't take any more hospital angst. I suspect it will be irrelevant to the public service workers whether or not the public supports them. Sometimes, enough is simply enough.
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    The PCS action is not about asking for anything more it is about protecting what is already in place.

    If any employee has their terms and conditions changed they have a right to disagree. Just because other people have their employment messed with and have to accept it, it does not make it right.

    One way to show you are unhappy is to strike . This is a legal right (as far as I am aware) and is a democratic method to get your point across.

    Support your public services otherwise you will all be paying extra for things you now take for granted.

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    WSSWSS
    edited June 2011
    The problem is Ralph is that too many strikes (mainly initiated by @RedArmySE7's mate Bob Crow) have not been due to terms and conditions being changed.

    They have because staff have been made redundant or pay freezes have been imposed or, the most recent "reason", is that a tube driver has been sacked for being abusive!  This has happened in the private sector and there have been plenty of individuals on this site who have spoken about it.

    This particular case about pensions I can kind of understand, but when the public have been subjected to strikes because of things they are going through or have gone through themselves it starts to grind.
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    edited June 2011
    I am with the union's on this one!

    What with the double 'whamey' of woman having to work till they are 66 plus, soon to be raised again, which  will  be incremented to 68.
    A three percent rise in contributions  plus. So work longer, pay more, for hopefully the same conditions. 
    Currently most public sector workers have had a pay freeze,! This is about the unreasonable time scale that this is to be introduced, and that most public workers accepted lower pay  for better pension conditions!
    Yes people are living longer, and this should have been introduced years ago! this did not happen overnight, or over the last year or so!. 
    If this was to be introduced over a 10 year period then it would have some validity!. 
    Where are all these jobs that 60 plus men and woman are supposed to be  going to do!
    If you are happy to stay at work good luck to you! However as a cleaner/nurse/teaching assistant you are not well paid!.
    You will probably will have already made arrangements for your pension and may well have to slam into reverse those financial arrangements.
    Let some of the directors try working at this for 6 months or so, and see how they fair!........
    Changing the pension terms in such a short period of time  in unreasonable and will be challenged in the courts.
    The goverment has to bring in equality parity in pensions  to comply with EU  directives!, but it needs to do so in a fair and resonable time frame.
    There is already cross party agreement that this move is unfair, especially to the woman of 55 plus.
    In a time when there is an increasing need to look after ageing parents, just how exactly is someone suppossed to do this!. 
    After all, that is the goverments premis is it not!..... or does that not apply to the current elderly!
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    The country is in trouble financially due to the previous Governments crazy spending. We now have to economize, and knuckle-down to make things better.

    Both governments have been guilty of spending on undeserving areas but the banking collapse would have been bailed out by both sides as we have no manufacturing base to fall back on. Unlike the nineties. There is precious little to be privatised to boost the economy and too severe cuts will plunge us into long recession. Grovel to keep your jobs and keep doing the lottery, pray for trickle-down.
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    Savings have to be made somewhere and maybe public sector pensions is the place, but how did we get to the point that low and middle income pensions are 'unsustainable' but massive bank losses and banker bonuses need to be sustained, if necessary through public subsidy? As far as I can see the only reason we aren't all out on the streets protesting about that is we lack the backbone and values our mothers and fathers had.

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    striking against the wrong government, the reason the country is in this shit state was caused by the party which was meant to represent the unions, we all need tro cut back we all need to work harder for longer hours, i had a final salary pension that i  have paid into for 18 years and it was going to be my nest egg that al got frozen and changed to an index linked, i didnt like it but i understood, i didnt want it to happen, but i tollerated it.

     

    its up to me to look after me and mine no one else

     

    going on strike aint going to help fix this mess

     

    and i am a fully paid up member of unite and have been my whole working life i just feel at this time it aint about what they are saying it is, its about forcing an election and uising the strikes as a way to gain public opinion.

     

     

    if it works this is a more gullable country than i ever imagined

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    No support for the strikes within this household or anyone I work witg
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    Well that is your right North London, and I support no political party, be it Labour, Liberal, or Conservative.
    But I do believe in a welfare state, and think that the more vunerable in society, need to be protected, and helped.
    I even think that conservatives have a belief in that as well!. 
    Striking should be  last resort, and probably the Bob Crowe's of this world however convinced of there right to strike probably set the 
    labour cause back, more than most over striking at a drop of a hat!. But people still have a right to strike, and withhold there labour.
    Of course it is infuriating when you are freezing your nuts off on a solitary station having done a hard day's graft! but the privatisation of the railways has hardly been a success has it!..
    Is going on strike gonna to help sort out this mess!... well just sitting back and doing sweet FA  is not going to !
    Least we forget it was the banks that got us into this position!
    A fair day's pay for a fair day's work!.... gullable! almost certainly!....
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    edited June 2011
    Big mistake. They'll get very little sympathy if they start disrupting the lives of ordinary hard-working folk who have already experienced - and are still experiencing - financial hardship these past few years.

    For once, just for once, I would like a union to take the wider view and do what's right for the ordinary man in the street - not just exclusively serve their members self-interests and their leaders over-inflated egos. I thought that's what unions were for, a long time ago, but they seem to have become too inwardly focussed over the years.

    Plus then there's Bob Crow, who thinks he's a modern day Scargill. Well if that means he gets a kicking off the old bill then that will do for me.
    Why is it a big mistake? Most of the ordinary hard working, low paid, folk of this country you refer to, work in the public sector. Nurses, dinner ladies, school secretaries, the list is endless. Take me,  for an example, I work in the public sector. I haven't had a pay rise for two years. This year, I've had to take a 10% pay cut because the council I work for has to save over £30m which means I probably won't get a pay rise until I retire. I don't get bonuses or jollies to the cricket, rugby or Ascot races. I work up to 45 hours a week because I have to cover for the vacant posts that my employer can't afford to fill. And to cap it all, I'm now going to be expected to contribute an additional 3% to my 'gold plated' pension and further erode my standard of living. Someone's got it in for me, I reckon.I don't know about any others on here who work in the public sector but I feel that i'm personally being held responsible for the mess that the banks have got this country into. Still, I may not have to worry about making additional contributions towards my pension as my job's under review and there's a chance that I may be made redundant after 31 years service. What do you think about my chances of getting a job at your place are?  


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    Good post Valley Mc
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    Though some my find it an inconvenience, the destruction of thousands of community based organisations that have taken decades to develop supporting the disabled, young people, bereavement services to name but a few is reason alone for people to show their discontent.
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    I'm in the public sector and have paid into a pension for 25 years, I've had a pay freeze for the last 2 years and pay in 11% a month of my salary into a public sector pension scheme to which i have planned my life and retirement around. some public sector workers and our lovely friend from Westminster pay in zero or alot less than me. if they up everyones to 11% then i'll be happy as thats fair to me, if they now want me to pay in more, work longer and earn the same as i have for the last 2 years they can sit on it.

    If they wish to take on all the public sector workers ie, prison officers, teachers, dustmen, firefighters, ambulance, HSE and NHS just to name a few good luck to them. a winter of discontent.......you bet !!!

     The only thing that will cause strikes are touching pensions, leave them alone and dont send 600 million a year overseas if you need to save money !!

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    The problem bein g Ken that they are not striking over the welfare state its a sham a front, their striking because the tories got in nothing more nothing less,

     

    when i was at school i was constantly told by my grandfather, get a pension as soon as you leave school, work hard no matter what job you get, find happiness in taking pride in what you do then no matter what job you get youll be able to walk with your head held high.

     

    i work in the private sector i am paid for 37 hours aweek and i do 50 -60 in return i earn less than some may think that a company the size of the one i work for offers its mgmt,

    i do feel sorry for those like VM above its not a nice place to find yourself and believe me if i lost my job i wouldnt have a hope of getting another one, i did shit at school havent got a real grade to my name, in the pool of unemployed i wouldnt even get to the surface in any real role that interested me.

     

    but i would clean shit out of toilets and off kerbs if that was all that was on offer and id doit for as many hours a day as needed, get the shit scum back into work doing jobs that pays them the same as what they get for sitting in the park, in their 100 quid trainers and their designer tops,

     

    and then see where the countries at

     

    all of you that are working hard to pay for scum that have never lifted a finger in their lives, strike against those tossers and every single right minded person would be 100% behind you

     

     

    the countries fukd lets all try to help by working our way out of it

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    I don't have a lot of sympathy for these people I'm afraid. I'm self employed and I don't have ANY pension at all, yet my business has shrunk by around 25% since the recession, and I didn't cause the banking crisis either. Unfortunately we all have to pay for what's happened in some way, and some people will pay more than others and of course it won't always be fair.

    The financial sector propped up this country for too long, and instead of looking at ways to boost private enterprise, the last government just threw money into the public sector and created jobs that we didn't need and benefits that people didn't deserve to make their unemployment figures look better.

    I also get the distinct feeling that the unions are just as interested in making the Conservatives look bad as they are in representing the best interests of their members.

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    my brother in law works in the public sector on more than 65K a year he is in charge of a department, has the same budget as me looks after the same amount of people, with similar respoinsibilites, he used to work in the private sector and doubled his salary when he left to join the council. he cant believe the wastage, yet rightly so is happy enough to take his cut (looking after him and his family first priority).

     

    this wastage was bought in by labour, the banks absolutely ruined the country with its risk taking, we have uncontrolled imagration which has resluted in numerous people being allowed in and poncing off of us, we have 3rd and now 4th genertaions of english people that feel it is their right never to work, and yet not one union has ever done anything to stop this and help us all

     

     

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    Big mistake. They'll get very little sympathy if they start disrupting the lives of ordinary hard-working folk who have already experienced - and are still experiencing - financial hardship these past few years.

    For once, just for once, I would like a union to take the wider view and do what's right for the ordinary man in the street - not just exclusively serve their members self-interests and their leaders over-inflated egos. I thought that's what unions were for, a long time ago, but they seem to have become too inwardly focussed over the years.

    Plus then there's Bob Crow, who thinks he's a modern day Scargill. Well if that means he gets a kicking off the old bill then that will do for me.
    Why is it a big mistake? Most of the ordinary hard working, low paid, folk of this country you refer to, work in the public sector. Nurses, dinner ladies, school secretaries, the list is endless. Take me,  for an example, I work in the public sector. I haven't had a pay rise for two years. This year, I've had to take a 10% pay cut because the council I work for has to save over £30m which means I probably won't get a pay rise until I retire. I don't get bonuses or jollies to the cricket, rugby or Ascot races. I work up to 45 hours a week because I have to cover for the vacant posts that my employer can't afford to fill. And to cap it all, I'm now going to be expected to contribute an additional 3% to my 'gold plated' pension and further erode my standard of living. Someone's got it in for me, I reckon.I don't know about any others on here who work in the public sector but I feel that i'm personally being held responsible for the mess that the banks have got this country into. Still, I may not have to worry about making additional contributions towards my pension as my job's under review and there's a chance that I may be made redundant after 31 years service. What do you think about my chances of getting a job at your place are?  


    In my view it's a big mistake and the public at large will not be sympathetic - I was simply answering the original post.

    My point was VM that just about everyone has had it tough these past few years. I work in the private sector, haven't had a payrise for three years, was working 60 hour weeks and have put loads into my pension pot over the years only to see it now worth relatively bugger all. My firm made lots of redundancies, as did most other firms in my game.

    Given that backgound why on earth should I be paying for people to have "gold plated" final salary pension schemes when they make (relatively) little contributions to it and my own will be worth fuck all? I'm sorry if they were told they could rely on it, but so was I. Things change.

    I'm with NLA on this. If everyone got their heads down and got on with it for a year or two then maybe we can start to come out the other side of this bloody mess.
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    Would have put it slightly differently but spot on for me NLA. 

    How many of these threads/posts talk about 'I'll never get a pay rise again' in the public sector? - well, perhaps broaden your horizons a little and consider working in the private sector.  No-one owes you a living.   

    I've worked in both and for both sectors, and I have to say that the unions have a great opportunity to really add something to their workforces but some seem to prefer being a huge ball of political gas and create problems for them and their members through their undying preference for militancy over common sense.  

    No, I can't see how a series of tube strikes is an appropriate response to someone getting unfairly sacked.  Take it to tribunal and live with the outcome, that's what most of us have to do. And they shouldn't be striking for the public sector at last having to address what the unions created - an expectation of inflation busting pay rises and a job for life regardless of whether you're bringing anything of value.  Believe me, I've seen people earning £45k for quite literally doing nothing every day, in one London council department alone that I worked with there were 4 or 5 of these folk.  I could tell you countless stories. That and much more is all going on our council tax guys. 

    Private sector organisations would go to the wall if they behaved like the public sector and carried as much waste. Good on the coalition I say for forcing them to find the efficiencies that they've just not bothered to look for over the years. 

    Of course none of this is to say that the public sector isn't valuable or that there aren't lots of hard working committed people there.  But the chickens have come home to roost on the profligacy of the years, and it's well overdue.   

    I wonder how many public sector workers know how lucky they are. 45 hours a week?  I wish I could do 45 hour weeks. Any private sector folk got flexitime? Pay freezes? Many of us in the private sector have taken cuts just to stay in a job. Don't touch pensions?  The private sector has been changing its pensions for years now, higher contributions, final salary schemes binned, loss of benefits, lower values, later payout etc. 

    We're all in the same boat frankly.  The government's strategy is to find the efficiencies in the public sector we all know hand on heart are there, and rebuild the economy on growth in industry and the private sector. Might work, might not, but give it a chance - the previous lot's approach delivered the mess we're in now, and I'm saying that as someone who voted for them. 

    For me, strikes will make many if not most people view the unions as doing no more than bleating when we're all facing the same challenges.  I don't believe there's widespread public support, and I think Bob Crow is facing a long overdue come-uppance personally.  He's living in the past, and rarely comes across as anything other than an out-of-touch twat. No support here for sure. 

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    And to think Gordon Brown was known as the frugal chancellor. He has a lot to answer for with regard to the absolute chaos and mayhem he's left behind for the encumbent administration to try and clear up.

    It's always the poor mugs 'in the middle' that suffer the most. And that's not going to change over the next two or three years.

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    Some good points raised on this issue, some absolute tosh.

    How people live with such awful narrow views which in their minds are 100% accurate is beyond me.

    I am in the sh*t and so then should you be is a strange attitude in my opinion.

     

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    Contrary to the popular myth, public sector workers are not made for life with super duper pensions. A few top dogs might be, but for the majority the pension is a means of subsistence not a golden ticket to some starlit money-no-object world of cruises and caviar. Here's what the Government's own Hutton Enquiry has to say on the matter, “The Commission firmly rejected the claim that current public service pensions are ‘gold plated.’ The average pension paid to pensioner members is around £7,800 per year, while the median payment is around £5,600”.

    Neither is it true that pensions are going to get more expensive, recent reforms are now kicking in making them considerably cheaper. Again, according to the Hutton Report the projected cost of public sector pensions as a percentage of GDP is now on a downward trend and is on course to drop from 1.9% now to 1.4% by 2060. So what is the cost of public sector pensions? Currently it stands at about £32bn per year. This might seem a lot, until you consider that according to The Treasury paper Tackling Tax Avoidance published in March this year the Tax Gap stands at around £40bn per annum. It is also a spit in the ocean compared to the £1.3trillion (yes TRILLION) bail out of UK banks whilst the biggest banker of them all, Fred Goodwin, gets an annual pension of £700k+.   
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