When is a strike not a strike? When it’s a scam…

Well, as the Brighton Bin Strike rumbles on it is rapidly become clear that a public health disaster is imminent. Here are three examples I snapped on the way into work this morning:

IMG-20130620-00134 IMG-20130620-00135 IMG-20130620-00136

Officially the 5-day strike comes to an end today and the City clean workers are supposed to return to work tomorrow morning, but on a “work to rule” which means the backlog will not be cleared over the weekend.

For next week the strikers have made plans for what they call “strategic action”. There are basically three groups of workers involved in the dispute: (i) refuse truck drivers; (ii) refuse collectors; and (iii) street cleaners. The plan is that groups (ii) and (iii) will go back to work, but (i) will remain on strike. This means that groups (ii) & (iii) will turn up for work, and receive full pay, but will be unable to carry out any of their duties because of the absence of drivers to drive the trucks essential for their operation. In effect, the Council Tax payers of Brighton & Hove will be paying for two out of the three groups but not getting any work in return. Presumably future action will rotate these groups, with a similar result.

People can make up their own mind about this tactic, which is intended to ensure that CityClean workers do not lose their entire income while on strike. My view, for what it’s worth, is that it is both cynical and immoral. Effectively, the CityClean operatives are planning to help themselves to Council Tax payers’ money in order to fund the strike, while still expecting the general public to endure the stench and filth generated by their decision to withdraw their labour. I began with some sympathy for the strikers, but I’m afraid if they persist in this action that sympathy will disappear entirely.

A strike is a strike, but the plan for next week is not a strike. It’s a scam.

Meanwhile, the other party to the dispute, Brighton & Hove City Council, is doing exactly nothing to resolve it. The strikers action, however, is not hurting them, it’s hurting the ordinary people of the city. It’s just a question of time before someone is injured (e.g. by broken glass) or contracts a disease from the rotting garbage littering the streets. Hundreds of small businesses, already struggling with the recession, many of which are dependent on the tourist trade for their income, will be forced under. The selfishness and intransigence of both sides is unconscionable. Moreover, the Council has a statutory responsibility to provide a refuse collection service, which is is clearly unable and/or unwilling to do.

We’ve reached the point where the national Government should intervene. And quickly.

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20 Responses to “When is a strike not a strike? When it’s a scam…”

  1. Have you contacted your local councillor?

    • telescoper Says:

      On several occasions. The problem is that the elected Council members handed over the new pay system to unelected Council officers, so they now claim they can’t do anything about it.

      • That sounds like it’s either a half truth or the council is laughably inept. Either way you should direct your anger at them, unless you don’t think the workers have a reasonable cause to strike in the first place. Even in this “scam” as you put it, the workers are presumably on 2/3 pay and have to be on picket lines during their working hours. If they do have a reasonable cause its pretty horrific to force them back to work because they can’t afford food and rent.

      • telescoper Says:

        I’m angry with both sides, actually!

        But if you go on strike that means withdrawing labour and not getting paid. If you’re not prepared to accept that you shouldn’t go on strike.

      • Why?

      • telescoper Says:

        because that’s what a strike is. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

      • Apparently they did? So they can.

      • telescoper Says:

        That’s what they were proposing, but have not actually done.

      • I guess that my point is I was upset that your argument was just tautology.

      • telescoper Says:

        I don’t think it is a tautology.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    You did say on January 16th that you appreciated Brighton’s essential seediness.

    Are CityClean private contractors…?

  3. Bryn Jones Says:

    I do hope the situation is resolved before your UCAS visits start in the autumn.

  4. One could argue that this is a reason for dustmen to be civil servants: their job is so important that society would rather give them a more comfortable job in return for knowing that they cannot strike.

    With regard to the scam tactic, I agree. Have you checked whether the union has hired someone from Elsevier as a consultant?

    • telescoper Says:

      Civil servants can and do strike in the UK.

      • OK, then they are not the exact equivalent of Beamte in Germany.

        Are all public employees civil servants in the UK? If not, what is the difference between those who are civil servants and those who are not?

      • telescoper Says:

        Civil servants are those who work for the Civil Service, an organization that has many departments but which is basically responsible for putting government policy into practice. It does not include, e.g. policemen and firemen.

  5. Phil Uttley Says:

    Bin there, done that…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2012187/Southampton-festers-MILLION-bin-bags-collectors-6-week-walk-out.html

    It lasted a couple of months. Huge pain but no-one died and the army wasn’t required. Good luck, hopefully Brighton’s problem will resolve itself!

  6. The enemy within….. Margaret Thatcher was wonderful. Her views on strikes and the condemnation of them is fully understandable when situations like this occur.

    • telescoper Says:

      I don’t agree about Thatcher at all. She’s the reason our society is so divided. I think workers should have the right to strike too. There are always those who abuse the rights they have, however. The strike was unnecessary and damaging, but happily has now ended. Meanwhile the rich continue to avoid paying their fair share of tax,

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