Thursday, June 11, 2009

Implied acceptance

I'm no expert on law - as you've probably worked out by now! - but I think that there ought to be a degree of common sense applied to law or, to be more precise, how the law is applied.

As usual this summer as with every summer, the RMT and their obnoxious leader, Bob Crow, have a grievance. I'm not entirely sure what this grievance is nor do I care - as I understand it they've been offered an decent pay rise while most of us in the private sector are making do with nothing or an actual cut, but Crow and his cronies want guaranteed jobs for life - which is ridiculous.

What I do know, though, is that unions have adopted this tactic over the last decade of having short disruptive strikes rather than indefinite strikes until the grievance is addressed. It's obvious why they do this - it means minimal disruptance to the lives of the union members while maximising disruptance to the employers and, in the case of the tube, the general public.

Now I'm all for the right to withdraw you labour if you feel you have a genuine grievance, but my argument would be that should you decide to return to work for any reason then that implies acceptance of the conditions offered. Otherwise why would you return to work?

I don't know what the best way of encoding that in law would be - I would suggest that it should be made illegal to strike more than once over any issue thereby making it impossible for anyone to have a number of strikes of fixed length.

What is certain is that these tactics of short disruptive strikes repeated over weeks or months have become more common in the public sector. It's time they were stopped. They can strike until some agreement is reached or they can go back to work and accept the conditions offered - they should not be allowed to have their cake and eat it.


Letters From A Tory said...

This strike has been particularly disgraceful, even by the RMT's standards, given the economic conditions and the fact that they are striking over two colleagues being fired for perfectly justified reasons.

The RMT should be crushed like a bug. Fine them for every day that they don't turn up to work and distribute the fines to the commuters that they disrupt.

Roue le Jour said...

Sensible enough on the surface, but I think there's some catch about unions being allowed off work to have a meeting, which could be made to have the same effect.

Dunno, it's a long time since I've been a 'brother'.

William Gruff said...

Sounds like a guerrilla campaign to me, a form of economic terrorism. If the 'assets' of a failed Icelandic bank can be seized under existing anti-terrorism laws then it ought to be possible to 'sequester' (remember that word?) the funds of a belligerent trade union, especially in this period of 'national crisis'.

Batteredstrat said...

The old saying that 'Hard cases make bad law' I think is pertinent here.

Government could legislate on the lines that you ask quite easily, but I doubt it would stop the likes of the RMT. They could just raise a series of issues and strike on each individually.

Also, do we want to end up with a society where it becomes almost impossible to withdraw labour. I am not in favour of strikes, and in the many ballots I have always voted against back when I was in the industrial sector, but there must be a balance between the Employee and employer.

The way to deal with intransigent unions is to offer them nothing.

Every time they strike, calculate the cost and withdraw it from the cost of the final offer.

If unions want to go to the brink and strike until settlement is reached, then they will have to have pretty strong grounds or the members won't accept it. Conversely, the one day strike will become unpopular if nobody gives in to it and it eventually cost the unions members dear.

Stan said...

"They could just raise a series of issues and strike on each individually."

Yes they could, but under my plan each time they return they are deemed to have accepted the terms. For example, the RMT are striking over pay, a jobs "guarantee" and a couple of sacked workers. If, for example, this first strike is about the job guarantees - then on their return they are deemed to have accepted that there will be compulsory redundancies. That means TFL could make a number of people redundant and the RMT could not strike again if they did. They could then go on strike over pay, but if they do they risk being forced to accept the pay terms offered if they return after two days - so they might strike indefinitely - but those strikers will now be aware that they may be the ones made redundant - a powerful incentive not to strike!