The Right to Strike

The right to remove your labour is a fundamental right that all workers have but few actually use in the UK for a wide variety of reasons, mostly these reasons are that compromise has been reached and common ground found, but a lot of times it is because of zero trade union recognition or fear of losing your job. It was one of Thatcher’s great victories in the 1980’s, she broke the trade union movement and encouraged people to become home owners by buying their council houses, both groups becoming weaker in the process for different reasons.

the current pay offer of £850 a year would only amount to an extra £6.50 a week, after tax and National Insurance.

RMT Rail Workers are being offered 4.7% as a pay rise this year, NHS staff are being offered 4%, Teachers and most other local authority worker are being offered 2%. Inflation currently sits at 3.2% so for most workers this offer represents yet another pay cut to add to the many since 2010 when most local authority workers saw a pay freeze until 2013 and then a 1% pay cap until 2017 and since then below inflation pay awards year on year which in effect are yearly pay cuts.

Now not everyone will agree with strike action, employers certainly won’t, but much of the public won’t welcome them either. However we have to accept that in the UK Working households comprised 37% of those below the official poverty line in 1994–95 and 58% in 2017–18. Compare that to the world’s billionaires who  “did extremely well” during the coronavirus pandemic, growing their already-huge fortunes to a record high of $10.2tn (£7.8tn). We are not all in it together are we and while many, certainly COSLA, will say that there is no money to pay what unions and workers are asking for there was money to waste billions on apps that don’t work and to award contracts worth billions to cronies of Tories during this Covid-19 Pandemic.

The UK is the sweat shop of Europe and not just in textiles. As staff numbers have reduced in local authorities increasing demands have been placed on the remaining workers to pick up the so called slack resulting in high rates of sickness and depression amongst the workforce and we have also seen a high number of workers go to work when they are ill for fear of losing their jobs, that is breadline Britain at work in all of it’s glory. We also have the lowest pensions in the industrialised world and lowest sick pay. The reality is, and I see it every time I pay a bill or go shopping, is that prices in Tory Britain are rising and rising fast, most of us have less money now to pay the bills and get through the month. That is not good for working families and it is not good for the economy as people have less money to spend in their local communities, while the recent cuts to Universal Credit just make the situation worse to the extent that this winter Christmas is going to be a miserable event for many as the choices will be eat or heat with no doubt an increase in personal debt as many people feel the pressure of the season.

So for those who are arguing that to strike in Scotland during COP26 puts Scotland in a bad light I would ask when is the right time, when is enough enough, when do we stand up and fight for the terms and conditions that many of our European workers take for granted. The UK cannot be allowed to become an even bigger sweat box than it is now, that is the Tory agenda, that allows the Tories to continue what Thatcher started, a race to the bottom. I voted for strike action recently in the Unite ballot because it is time to take a stand.

Our politicians in Holyrood are protected from the blight of poverty and of the daily struggle to live any kind of decent life, recently we saw the joke that was Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative Branch Manager, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon trying to out working class each other, the very fact they had that debate should shame the both of them and shows a complete detachment from day to day life in Scotland for the many. While they are playing politics with comments like Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said it was “an embarrassment to Scotland that the SNP can’t even keep the trains running when the world’s eyes are upon us” and Scottish Tory transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “This is major embarrassment for the SNP. Ministers should have resolved this dispute months ago. They are all missing the reality of the situation because as Chris Mitchell of the GMB Unions says –

“We were called Covid heroes and essential workers.

“This is when low-paid workers take a stand against Cosla and say enough is enough, because these heroes here deserve a pay rise.

“Stand with us, not against us.”

If we don’t take a stand now then we are going down a road that will actually kill off our aspirations for our families, even for independence, because the struggle will be to just survive and to thrive will become a distant dream as we see poverty increase while life expectancy decreases for the many who have the gall to be poor, we will then find ourselves in a modern Victorian Age where the work house is reintroduced and every gain made by our great grand parents to give us a better life will be lost due to our own cowardice.


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9 Responses to The Right to Strike

  1. Wee Chid says:

    Completely agree with you. The only redress dissatisfied workers have against employers is to withdraw their labour and the best time to do that is when it will cause maximum inconvenience.
    As for putting Scotland in a bad light – our govt have already done that by showing the world how ineffective they are at fighting for our independence. We must look ridiculous to anyone who has been paying attention.The foreign visitors, more than likely. see us as a region of England anyway and so any “bad light” will fall on our colonial masters.Maybe the ones who are complaining about striking workers aren’t the people who will have to decide between heating and eating this winter. Or maybe they are just Tories at heart.

    • Wee Chid

      No one wants to strike, we lose wages, but enough is enough. Wages are low in Scotland as it is abs getting worse so you have to take a stand at some point. There will be those who won’t strike of course and are happy for others to do the fighting for them and those not in the union who can’t strike but I know that I think it’s time to take a stand. If I had my way I would have everyone out the same week and send a real message that things have got to change.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Wee Chid says:

        I’d also start having a work to rule – everywhere. No more extra hours to get the job done – if work can’t be done in the time allocated then maybe another job, with another wage, needs to be created. I’d also call for all unpaid childminders – usually grannies – to come out on strike and see how the nation copes when mothers cannot get to work because they have no free childcare. All of these things simply subsidise the wealthy who can get away with paying low wages, knowing that the benefits system or unpaid workers will keep them going.
        Additionally, to replace the bedroom tax, I’d have a cap on rents with an extra tax falling on landlords who want to charge more than social housing rents.

        • Wee Chid

          Yeah work to rule I know has been discussed and will probably be the next stage, if people are smart they will reject overtime and you are spot on if unpaid carers suddenly stopped Scotland would be in serious trouble as services would collapse in a day. Something has to give and it is time for workers to make a stand, I know that I am a lot worse off now than I was, I see the impact of recent price increases, esp on fuel and heating, food. Surely there comes a time when you can’t keep taking steps back and you have to say enough and COP26 is the perfect time to do it no matter how much it embarrasses the Government or even the country, but saying that people know that the UK is a busted flush now anyway and it is only delusion of the politicians that think the UK is some sort of power.

          Thanks for commenting.

  2. wullie says:

    how much do the COSLA reps earn.
    What kind of salaries do the delegates coming to the conference earn.
    Let us know the salary of those who say we cannot afford the pit full wage rise being asked for.
    Let us know the salary of those who advocate a living wage.

    • Wullie

      I think COSLA is elected councilors and some paid staff but no idea what they earn. I don’t think that people don’t want to pay a decent pay rise but the money allegedly is not there and that is the problem, the money is there when they want it to be and we cannot keep expecting people to just deliver the same when they are earning less and less each year as bills get higher and higher. That is a sweat shop economy and in the longer term that is not good for anyone, trickle down is a nonsense and a myth as we know. I just don’t think workers have a choice anymore, it is fight for a fair raise or lose even more ground and a harder life, I am all for strike action and COP26 is the perfect time to get the message across.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. twathater says:

    The frustrating thing is there is never any shortage when it comes to raises for MP’s or MSP’s or daily rates for the parasites in the house of lards , or the subsidised bars or the subsidised meals in their posh dining restaurants (not canteens) , or their expenses , or their housing subsidies , FFS some are even that rich they can afford castles
    When I was a shop steward and the usual wage negotiations were discussed and as usual the management always insisted that they couldn’t afford such and such percentage no matter what was asked for I always put forward the suggestion that we appreciated that things were tough and in order to help with the financial constraints and limitations on the firm we were willing to accept a flat rate of £10 per week for each employee across the board naturally that included the senior management and directors , because when it came down to it £10 a week on a wage was noticeable , £10 a week for senior staff was risible , naturally my proposal was NEVER adopted I wonder why

    • TH

      Yeah it is always the same. We are now 7 months late with the pay rise and I am at the point where we have to strike. We have been strong along by Costa and the government to keep services going but it’s now time to send a clear message, we were heroes a couple of months ago even though most of us were shafted on the £500 bonus now it’s time to use COP26 to show the world that the UK and Scotland is not all it seems and if the country is embarrassed so it should be.

      Thanks for commenting.

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