From David Spencer.
I HAVE to return to my letter published in the JEP on 13 October, which might have seemed intemperate to some (you should have seen the first draft!).
A century and more ago the early friendly societies and workers’ unions played an essential part in representing their wronged or disadvantaged members and provided real support for disenfranchised families faced with the workhouse.
Today, in 2009, I would suggest that their job is done. They have ‘negotiated’ (always under threat) unbelievably generous ‘rights’ and protection for the working man, all now enshrined in the laws of the land which is, in any case, a welfare state second to none, well-equipped to look after genuine cases of hardship.
The likes of Jack Jones, Hugh Scanlon, Arthur Scargill and Mick McGahey exploited their unquestioning, naive followers as cannon fodder for their communistic ends; where now are Britain’s once-proud mining and ship-building industries, to name but two?
But the lessons have still not been learned by the employees of the Royal Mail, British Airways and London Underground, all of whom are currently taking or threatening strike action. Who can possibly benefit from this and what, precisely, motivates the orchestrators?
There seems little doubt that the States Employment Board should have handled the present contretemps in a better manner; but does this justify Mr Corbel’s rallying call to the entire public sector on the much-vaunted ‘free collective bargaining’ theme?
The problem here is that the unions’ only interpretation of free collective bargaining and ‘negotiation’ is that it must always lead now to more pay and/or benefits for the workforce. Why should this be the case?
Bang some heads together, clear the air, accept that normal procedures might have been short-circuited insensitively but, above all, understand that a one-year pay freeze will actually protect jobs and give a measure of much-needed temporary relief to the Island as a whole.
Better times will surely come; until then, please let us hear less about rights and more about responsibilities.