♠ Posted by Emmanuel in Labor at 3/24/2010 12:01:00 AMWell, the parallels to the seminal events of 1979 when the "Winter of Discontent" just keep mounting here in Blighty--as if we didn't have enough problems in these lands. Sometime ago, I discussed how rolling postal strikes were causing havoc on the many businesses that relied on timely delivery of parcels. On my usual route to work, I pass the Trade Union Congress (TUC) building. Even if I hadn't read the newspapers prior to embarking on my journey, I can rest assured that some sort of industrial action is imminent when reporters and cameramen are busy mulling outside the TUC. It appears I'm going to see a heckuva lot more of these characters as nearly every logistics, transportation, and utility concern Britain relies on is going on strike. Workers of the British isles unite! As an aside for you political economy junkies, on my daily route I also regularly pass the British Museum, in whose reading room one Karl Marx spent long hours plotting the downfall of capitalism. But for this post, his contemporaries take centre stage:
British Gas workers have voted to strike over what they call macho management and bullying, the GMB union said Tuesday. The strikes would affect gas service engineers, central heating boiling engineers and distribution depot workers. No strike dates have been set among the 8,000 GMB members and the company, part of Centrica Plc, has been given a week to respond before the union decides on its next move.Postmen, cabin crew, heating guys, rail workers, civil servants, university staff...the list goes on and on. It makes the French look positively workaholic by comparison.
"British Gas has turned from being a reasonable employer where people had job satisfaction into one with a culture of bullying, customer exploitation and profits at all costs," Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said on the union's website earlier this month. Matthew Bateman, director of heating services at British Gas, Britain's biggest household energy supplier, said "robust contingency plans" were in place to help maintain customer services.
"We remain committed to talking with the GMB and avoiding this unnecessary industrial action," he added, in a statement. A strike would be further embarrassment for Labour, already facing jibes from the Conservatives over British Airways cabin crew and planned action by National Rail signal workers, just a few weeks ahead of a national election. In addition, thousands of civil servants plan a one-day stoppage Wednesday, coinciding with the Budget.