Tuesday 20 December 2022

Strikes: Government will stick - it has nowhere to go

The winter strikers have, inadvertently, made the Government's strategy for it.  There are so many strikes, all essentially pleading with ministers to intervene with the big public chequebook; and the government simply can't do that.

This problem (for the unions) presumably stems from (a) zero inter-union coordination: this ain't the Revolution; and (b) the relatively new phenomenon of 1-day strikes.  

Time was when strikes (of the non wildcat variety) were indefinite, all-out affairs that had to be planned months in advance, with a big fighting fund laid up to be able to foot the bill for Strike Pay.  In those days, unions couldn't do much else than coordinate these things, at least to some degree, in the manner of record labels of the same era who would keep "loosely in touch" to avoid big albums being launched competitively in the same window.  They needed mutual aid, not least on the picket lines, from people still drawing a wage.  One major front at a time.

How fragmented everything is these days.

Except, of course, the Government, which is (relatively) monolithic and, after years of nonsenses, quite well versed in messaging: yes we know it's shitty, but we all have to WFH / tighten belts / look after each other / etc etc, and just get on with things as best we can.  Blitz Spirit Lite (again).  The total inertia of Kier "shoo-in" Starmer, while he waits for everything to fall in his lap at the next GE, is quite helpful in this regard too.  Makes everything seem like some kind of unavoidable natural disaster.

So it looks like that's what it'll be: a piecemeal mess with minimal government movement, despite endless careful, ultra-reasonable-sounding union counter-messaging on the lines "all that needs to happen is the government to step in with a bit of compromise: we don't really mean 19%"**.  Which is gonna continue to fall on deaf ears: because where on earth does that lead the government?  They just ain't gonna pay out 10% to everyone on the active payroll - even if, perversely, they have done just that for the pension / social security roster.



** There's another emollient union line being peddled of late: It's not really about wages, it's about conditions - just scrap those provocative "reforms" & that'll do the trick ...


Anonymous said...

If the government did actually try and meet all of the strikers demands, then they would have a 'Truss' unfunded spending moment leading to more market craziness. The government simply doesn't have the money to pay the demands - can't borrow it, can't tax it.

Clive said...

Impossible to judge (and I’m not convinced, these days, by anything opinion polls say) but I do get a sense too there’s a distinct lack of public support. Not outright condemnation but not much sympathy either. Rail workers? Talk about trying to hold onto a broken business model. Healthcare? I normally have the best car in the car park when I drive somewhere. Except when I go to a hospital and have to take second best to the consultants’ attempt at staging the Frankfurt Motor Snow. The Post Office? Worse than a broken business model — no discernible reason to exist and precious few opportunities for reinventing yourself. And so on.

There does seem to be an acceptance by the Silent Majority we’ve allowed some serious blunders over the past few years in public policy choices and now we’re going to just have to jolly well suck it up a while.

Anonymous said...

"except when I go to a hospital and have to take second best to the consultants’ attempt at staging the Frankfurt Motor Snow"

They're not badly paid, but that'll be their private work at £250 for a 15 minute consultation. Sky's the limit when it comes to surgery.

I have a relative who's a junior doctor - she drives a W reg Micra. And she has a lot of war stories, like 7 hours left as the only doctor in charge of 60 respiratory patients.

What does ND think of this, especially in the light of "Whitehaven mine is a white elephant".


"Global coal use is set to rise by 1.2% in 2022, surpassing 8 billion tonnes in a single year for the first time and eclipsing the previous record set in 2013, according to Coal 2022, the IEA’s latest annual market report on the sector."

decnine said...

Listening to Matt Taylor on WATO today peddling gloom about the conjunction of Ambulance and Nurse strikes tomorrow. And he sees no solution. What he doesn't recognise is that the NHS is inflicting the equivalent of an Ambulance strike on us EVERY F***ING DAY by failing to empty Ambulances promptly.

So hospitals can't discharge medically 'fit' people quickly enough? Well, tough. There needs to be a National Convalescent Service to allow Hospitals to empty at the same rate as A&E+Elective arrivals. Who has failed to set up the required NCS? The bloody NHS, that's who. Start buying convalescent services from the (private) care sector, you Dummies.

And the NHS unions? They haven't grasped (yet) that privatising the whole mess solves all their gripes about pay. If Hospital 1 then under pays its nurses, they will all bugger off to the more generous Hospital 2.

Clive said...

Junior doctors are not on bad money https://www.bma.org.uk/pay-and-contracts/pay/junior-doctors-pay-scales/pay-scales-for-junior-doctors-in-england and, of course, they are starting out in their careers. As you say, the earnings potential is pretty huge. Nurses too are not underpaid relative to, say, police and teachers. You can always argue private sector pay is higher, but nursing and paramedics are in a job for life, more or less.

Where clinicians in the NHS may have a point is in administrative and management bloat taking a lot of the resources. But making the entirety of the NHS a sacred cow, incapable of reform (which the clinical staff are as guilty of as anyone), means it’s a political third rail to even try to do anything meaningful. And there’s no votes in political leadership where healthcare is concerned — every politician wants to promote the fantasy of a full-service hospital offering centre-of-excellence care in every specialty on your doorstep and making out like having to travel to a major hub or (the horror!) even outside your county is some huge betrayal.

As I alluded to, I think the Silent Majority gets a lot of this stuff. But there’s plenty of loud voices offering mollycoddling to unrealistic senses of entitlement.

Bill Quango MP said...

A postman I know quit his job. He is now a trainee paramedic. On only 2/3 the pay he was on as a postman with far, far worse terms and conditions.

Royal Mail have lost thousands of small businesses with the strikes.
They would have lost even more, but the competition can’t cope with the increased demand either.

Post Office, (not on strike) are finally, twelve years after the forced break from Royal Mail by the conservative government, moving away fro 100% RM dependency, to partner Amazon, DPD, Evri, etc.
Something that should have happened a minimum of ten years ago.

So Royal Mail could be looking at a very serious year on year profits decline as their monopoly finally ends.

Sadly for the post workers, the one time their strike is genuinely not about pay, no one is listening. Cried wolf too often.

dearieme said...

Nobody else has said it so it falls to me. For much of the pandemic most of the NHS just abandoned us.

The Covid wards worked; I assume the maternity hospitals worked. But as for the rest of us: bugger off, they cried.

This doesn't seem to me to be behaviour worthy of a pay rise. Ditto schoolteachers, university lecturers, and considerable chunks of the Civil Service. Given the absurd persecution of harmless activities doled out by the police I say no pay rises for them either.

But do reward: those who kept the gas, electricity, water, and sewage flowing, those who drove the lorries and delivery vans that kept us fed, the girls on the supermarket tills, and so on.

Hang on! That last point is redundant - those people aren't government employees. What a coincidence!

Diogenes said...

those who kept the gas, electricity, water, and sewage flowing

Somewhat out of touch unless you mean the electricity and water *not* flowing but sewage is. The privatised utilities are just as bad as the Civil Service. The issue is not where they are in the divide but the people within.

Good management and leadership in the UK left for sunnier climes years ago.

Good politicians? They were never in abundance either.

Anonymous said...

The unions over-shot their mark when they asked for 19%.
Even the pro-union people I know think this is a ridiculous number.

The government are missing a trick here though, if they linked a decent(ish) pay-rise now to pension reforms for the public sector, bringing them closer in-line to the private sector.

Or at least be better with the messaging highlighting over a life-time of earnings + pension contributions how good most public sector pay is are compared to private (for instance many NHS staff get paid decent over-time and overnight pay)

Caeser Hēméra said...

At the moment there's a fair lack of shit-giving from the public, but that won't last forever.

With the NHS strikes, this is simply down to the government being useless - there've been ample opportunities to tackle all the bed blocking, ambulance issues, staffing issues, etc. over the last 12 years.

People are leaving the NHS in droves, working hours and conditions have just reached a point where many have simply had enough.

The NHS desperately needs reform, it gets plenty of money, and needs to work more efficiently with it - but again, part of that is down to government not doing its job. Improve purchasing, improve IT, clamp down on golden goodbyes, gagging orders and diversity champions.

If you care so much about the sex, gender, race and religion of the people trying to care for you, do us all a favour and just die.

And the Tories need to stop Rees-Mogg appearing on pretty much anything, he could turn a red in tooth and claw capitalist into a raving Marxist loon inside an hour, if anyone could sour things, it's Walter the Softy's inbred cousin.

Nick Drew said...

CH - couldn't agree more on R-M. Despicable. His whole shtick is "I'm such a measured, logical, purist libertarian", but he prostitutes his arguments at the drop of a hat for the most self-serving of reasons.

politicians just behaving like politicians always will, I can stand: but when they dress up their every weasel and maneouvre in the language of theoretical virtue (including the reverse-ferret twists they make when the time comes to turn the coat), I'm out

David Howell was the first one I encountered. Roy Hattersley is another. [insert your favourites here .............]

Anonymous said...

BQ - "Royal Mail have lost thousands of small businesses with the strikes."

OTOH, if say Aldi used Parcelforce instead of Evri (Hermes rebranded) then the item I ordered on 28th November would have been delivered even with the strikes. I have no delivery dates for either of the items I ordered where the company used Evri. I'm going to ask before ordering in future "what service do you use?".

decnine - " If Hospital 1 then under pays its nurses, they will all bugger off to the more generous Hospital 2."

Until you find Hospitals 1-98 are all owned by a Cayman Islands PE firm, and Hospitals 99-200 by another one with offices next door.

Don't forget you've got to pay for all those duplicated administration services, too. Or will Capita look after that?

andrew said...

It is so much easier to let something break and start again hoping no one notices it is worse (yes brexit)
So that same pattern is being repeated on the nhs. Chronic underfunding over the last 22 years leads to queues. Leads to people managing queues
Leads to the cost of provision rising. Point solution band aids lead to blockages in other parts of the system. There is still no proper long term plan for training the doctors and nurses we think we will need.
It s been 13 years since Dilnot. Everyone hates it but no one has come up with anything better,there is no point in doing something you can be attacked for but not get useful political credit.
The govt, doesn't matter which, will slowly render the system non functional by a process of repeated 'reforms' because reform sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Post Office is not on strike; it's the Royal Mail - entirely separate!
Consultants are private contractors not NHS staff.

Anonymous said...

"Consultants are private contractors not NHS staff"

If you want to be pedantic, so are all GPs. And if you want to be more pedantic, the nurse at the GP clinic works for the practice, not the NHS. The vast majority of consultants do NHS work, very few are 100% private patients.

Totally off topic but talk about Full Spectrum Dominance - Morrisons and Aldi Chicken Kievs are now labelled "Chicken Kyivs". How long can Asda and M&S hold out before they follow suit? Don't want to be the first to stop applauding, do we now?

Anonymous said...

update on Evri - I rang Aldi customer services, I'm not getting what I ordered, it's apparently "lost at the depot" i.e. pinched, and they have no more in stock. Here's your money back and a £5 Aldi voucher. Great.

I really wish they'd used Royal Mail.

My son was moving house yesterday, using a hired Transit. At Lancaster services he was approached by another white van man who offered to sell him a brand new boxed TV. There must be an awful lot of stuff "lost at the depot".

Caeser Hēméra said...

With the likes of Evri, they're either very good, or very bad. Royal Mail has, at least, a level of being consistently decent, with its dalliances with ineptitude treated with humour.

Sure, you get the odd Bad Postie, especially around Christmas when the temporary workers come in.

An ex in-law once complained about how their postie just shoved some parcels through the letter box, rather than knock on the door, thus crushing the contents. They sent her a box of chocolates by way of apology. Which the postie shoved through the letter box. Crushing the chocolates.

There's a TikTok where they buy the lost parcels from the likes of Evri and unpack them. It's become a running joke how parcels are "delivered" by them, be it flung over a gate, shoved in a bin, or left in front of the wrong front door with you getting a lovely photo emailed to you of said wrong front door.

Britain has always accepted, and even taken a little bit of pride, in things that are a bit crap - they're the lifeblood of much of our humour after all - but the cheap shit alternatives to Royal Mail, with their casino-like attitude to if you receive your parcel at all, just infuriate.

Matt said...

Andrew said:

"So that same pattern is being repeated on the nhs. Chronic underfunding over the last 22 years leads to queues."


Chronic underfunding - pull the other one, it has bells on it!

I call you out as some socialist stooge out to troll the rest of us.

andrew said...

Or the user of a mobile phone keyboard :)

Bill Quango MP said...

Point of order.
Parcelforce are part of Royal Mail Group. They are on strike also.

Evri, are the worst. As agreed by the international body of people who order stuff. Us.

They are cheap, but shite.
Royal Mail are still the best for actually getting an item to your door. Except for Amazon, but then Amazon are only delivering their own stuff. So it’s much simpler.

On the strike issue it is very split. Some Royal Mail depots are fully unionised and everyone is off. No delivery. No collections. No clearing out of the post boxes, businesses or post offices.
Others, everyone is in to work. And all that clearing is done.

The problem is that even if a local depot is fully at work, all that they are doing is collecting and backlog. Unless a truck of new mail arrives from a sorting hub they won’t have any to deliver and all their sorted mail just sits around.

E-K said...

Anon - My son is a junior doctor. Lives a bedsit existence with a house full of other junior doctors. Yes. He's been the only doctor in a hospital on several shifts.


The step COUSIN on the other hand (via my brother, deceased)... never worked, banged out ADHD kids with several mothers and sent one or two GFs to the loony asylum (literally) has just bought his first French Bulldog for £1800 on the 10% 'pay' increase coming next year, along with some new tattoos.

It will be at least a decade before my boys (research chemist and doctor) can think about having kids, let alone a dog. At least it's a good thing they can't afford the tattoos.

Reverse Darwinism.

Britain really is doomed. No wonder it's looking like a prison breakout every where you cast your eye.

E-K said...

Clive - broken railway model.

I've tried to tell them at the depot (I'm a train driver.) They won't have it, which is understandable.

I voted against strike because of the 'broken model' theory. The days of TOCs competing for staff are gone. Even if they weren't, it is strategically stupid to take on a government with an 80 seat majority and then to get the public to line up behind it again just as it was failing. Not the most tactical of brains, these radicals.

Alas, the example being set is appalling because TOC owners and the directors are behaving as though the de facto re-nationalisation of the railways hasn't happened. The corporations are off-shoring taxpayer funded profits and the directors are still getting five figure bonuses.

They are recruiting sergeants for the RMT who would not normally mobilise moderate members (only in the union for legal protection) into voting for strike.

So how can a natural Conservative like me argue against strike action without looking like a management cock sucker and getting a well deserved punch in the gob ?

Industrial suicide it is, then - but with it off goes one of our major modes of transport just as cars are being made unaffordable. This is what becoming third world looks like.

The inflation that begat the National Strike of 2022 was caused by the lockdown that I was trying to warn you all about. Good thing Sunak the Chancellor reaps what he sowed as PM... not that he seems to give a shit.

For some reason it's OK for granny to die of hypothermia... to save the Polar bears but Zero Covid had to be achieved at all costs... well here they are.

The NHS is finished and was not saved and the country will be visibly sovietised and obviously economically broken by the next general election.

We are over the precipice. There is nothing can be done now. An irreversible revolt has started. A deliberate provocation - a 10% index linking to layabouts on the dole at this delicate juncture - was made by Sunak. This very nearly made me tick the box for strike ! So try to think how someone on £18k feels about it.

I am no Capt Hindsight.

I was told repeatedly that I was a whiner when I predicted exactly these outcomes and this future.

Anonymous said...

"The inflation that begat the National Strike of 2022 was caused by the lockdown that I was trying to warn you all about."

The vast majority of inflation is from what the government calls "weaponising energy" ands which is in fact NATO governments weaponising energy - literally in the case of the US/UK destruction of NS2.

Energy is pretty much an input into everything. Energy price rises - everything rises.

Anonymous said...

Both the historic energy price rises (caused in large part by the green nuttery as well as the west’s psychopathic obsession with Russia) and the insane decision to shut down the economy for the year and print money to pay for it have brought the UK to this point.

Raising public sector salaries by 19%, or 38%, would be sane and moderate compared to those decisions.

Peter Hitchens is the only MSM guy even remotely interested in looking at the big picture.

Sobers said...

"The vast majority of inflation is from what the government calls "weaponising energy" ands which is in fact NATO governments weaponising energy - literally in the case of the US/UK destruction of NS2."

Bollocks. Inflation was 6% and rising rapidly in Feb 2022, before Uncle Vlad went on his little holiday trip southwards. Anyone involved in business during the second half of 2021 knew that inflation was ripping through the economy - the price of supplies of everything were going through the roof. And all that was caused by giving people billions and billions of printed money for doing nothing, plus locking them in their houses so they couldn't spend it on anything anyway. Once everything opened up again a wall of money was unleashed into an economy whose capacity to produce had been decimated by lockdowns - supply chains were f*cked, many businesses had just closed up for covid and never reopened. Work ethic had been destroyed - sitting at home in your pants eating food delivered by some poor minimum wage van driver, and being paid for it unsurprisingly proved a more attractive proposition than getting up and going to work.

The energy price shock is a short term phenomenon - a spike in inflation and a year later it drops out. All the above is long term damage to the economy, and will result in higher inflation and lower growth for years to come.

dearieme said...

Only the duddest of governments could fail to grasp this opportunity to cancel HS2.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.18

"Peter Hitchens is the only MSM guy even remotely interested in looking at the big picture."

Agreed - I always think of him as The Good Hitchens. I think he took after his dutiful English father, whereas Cristopher took after his mum.

E-K said...

HS2 is at the behest of our EU masters.

Back on the rail strikes.

I'm amazed at all the newspaper comments re Mick Lynch and his 'greedy train drivers'.. he doesn't represent train drivers, totally different union.

Then "Well done greedy RMT" at the announcement of 5.9% fare increases (increases last year and the year before that too, despite pay freezes for three years now. Be very angry that the directors are making six figure 'performance' bonuses at the same time that the Government is claiming rail workers need to improve performance. Be angry that foreign parent companies of the TOCs are allowed to offshore profits when the rail companies are on taxpayer life support. (Profits ????)

Thirdly... train driver's pay has only increased with inflation (unlike the rest of the workforce.) In reality we are no better off than we were on £28k in 2002. It is the REST of the UK workforce that has dropped behind, not us that have made gains.

I'm not saying (objectively speaking) that we shouldn't take a pay cut and made to perform better. But exactly the same should apply to every Tory MP - their organisation being the worst performing in the country by a mile.

Bill Quango MP said...

Sobers is correct. Inflation was already running riot. That’s why Vlad went for it. He thought no one would stop him.

As for the WEST being obsessed with Russia, the west couldn’t care less about Russia. Nor did NATO.
If it did, why had the USA been trying to shift it’s forces from Europe to Asia?
Why did Germany not have a single working tank in 2019? And only four serviceable fighters of its own Luftwaffe?
Germany made zero attempt to fund its military to war, or even war defence levels.

All the west wanted, still wants, from Russia, is cheap energy sources and for Russia not to attack its neighbours with its massive military forces and not to shoot too many civilians or put too many political opponents in gulags. Or use radioactive poisoning in your assassination teams in foreign cities.

Putin, like Xi wants more.

These Lebensraum types all believe they have a date with destiny.

E-K said...

I disagree slightly BQ.

Putin was happy to have just been left alone. He was well and truly suckered into this and it is is clear that NATO commando training was well and truly underway in Ukraine long before it.

The West are not interested in Russia but they ARE interested in the natural resources in and around Crimea. On the ideological level there is a visceral hatred of Putin which has been cleverly engineered to get the West's liberals on side and wave the blue and yellow flag like a Justin Beeber fan with her knickers aloft... that hatred stems from Putin's refusal to suck diversity cock at the Sochi Olympics.

Someone has cleverly made him the Panto villain and the diversion from the cultural and economic sovietisation of the West.

E-K said...

A propos my post at 8.29 above. It is interesting to see at first hand the media manipulation of the public in my own field of expertise.

How they can generate hatred of a group that have merely staved off inflation, not raked it in. Especially with no help in getting kids through 9 years of degree courses.

Nick has seen my 2011 Skoda estate with dings and bits missing off it !!!

Sobers said...

"How they can generate hatred of a group that have merely staved off inflation, not raked it in. Especially with no help in getting kids through 9 years of degree courses."

I'm a farmer. What do you think the public's view of farmers would be if we were in a position to stop producing food and make people go hungry in order to demand higher profits for farmers? Somewhat lower than their opinion of politicians and paedophiles I suspect.

Any body of people who use their own power over others to enrich themselves is not going to be popular. Train drivers (and all the other public sector workers) are abusing their monopoly position of power over the public, and as such all I can say is roll on driverless trains, and the destruction of the NHS monolith.

Charlie said...

Evri "lost" a pair of bike wheels after they were scanned into their depot. Given that the box was at the limits of what they'll accept, I can only assume they were nicked. Also had them "lose" a Dyson I sold on eBay.

I don't use them anymore. Blatant crooks and even the CEO's office didn't give a shit.