Strike when the oil is hot?

I am not a graduate of social economics, nor do I profess any real insight into the ways of a union, but I just don’t understand the action of Striking. It obviously is a last resort and is action that cannot be leagally taken without union backing, but it just seems a little overboard, slightly petulant and above all exactly the opposite to what the groups are trying to come to a compromise over, and by not working both sides are doing the wrong thing.

Recently there has been some real headline grabbing stories from the rather gorgeous Daily Mail and the mainstream media. For the uninitiated, here is my Septics Companion guide to the Daily Mail, courtesy of a glance at a fellow bloggers recent gift.

The Daily Mail to me has never been a “news” paper. It is an opinionated party preaching rag paraded as a publication of new paper. Every story has some kind of opinion added to it to appease the British mentality of us, not them – this is not isolated to the Daily Mail of course, The Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch and as such is heavily influenced by promotional steers and the usual working class level of writing that is more CAPITAL LETTERS and BOLDS to make sure that the people reading are outraged at the right parts, leaving no inference from the tone (which the sun has an abject lack of, except maybe laddish nude-nudge pub talk) and that they know what their opinion should be. The Daily Record is almost as bad, except it is all about the Scottish angle, so much that at a stretch they will find almost anything patriotic about a story and build it up, and when there is no such angle they try to make it out that that is the stories fault, not being Scottish enough to tickle the fancy of the reading public.

But why should I care? I don’t read it, do I? I’m a Guardian reader, for shame, and that’s only because it reads like a website. I get most of my opinions from reading various sources and places online to make sure I get as much of a spread of comment and reaction as I can to help me pick my opinion. The Daily Mail reader, in a generalisation that would make even the most staunch Stereotyper blush, is led by the opinions of men who specifically write pieces to create tension and ignorance knowing it will get them attention. This is how newspapers make their money in this time of free accessible press.

But recently there has been OUTRAGE at the whole Italians being brought in by a multinational corporation to work on an oil refinery rather than employ British fitters instead. The Daily Mail (and many other publications) have taken the angle that Gordon Brown should be trying to secure these for British people and companies. There is a fair few problems with this.

- What if the Brits are not the best for the job? No where have I seen a piece that proves that we are entitled to the job without competition. If the Italians will do a better job than a British counter part why the hell would anyone, even a British company, consider to employ them?
- What if the Brits are not as good as the Italians? I mean, surely there might be an actual quality difference in the work. Brits might not be as good as the Italian fitters who might have more experience in the job of may have done a similar job somewhere else. That is pretty obvious reason.
- What if the Brits are charging too much? The engineering business is all about undercutting the other persons bid – whether it be by undercharging or over specifying, or even having the better people on the job – if a company is looking for a contract then obviously it will choose the cheapest option if it is viable.
- The Italians are allowed to bid for the job. The above three reasons only work if they are allowed to apply for it and of course they are! That’s a legal requirement of the EU sanctions on working abroad. Part of the deal is that we can work in Europe and they can work over here without any complications. This is part of the whole European thing, and if you disagree with that (like the Daily Mail does) then that’s a whole different argument.

The main problem I have though is the double standards. We are complaining that people are coming to our country to take our jobs away from us, and this is wrong – the logical explanation there is that if there were the effective and rightly priced British workers competing for the same work then there would be no need to worry about it. That’s in an ideal world of course.

More realistically, and more hypocritical: we are outraged when people come to our country to work, but find it fine to go to other countries and work alongside people getting paid a fraction of what we are being paid. That takes serious delusion, balls, ignorance and stupidity. It has to work both ways. We go to poor countries and get paid a fortune so we must expect that poorer countries will come to our richer country to get paid more here, and if that is less than what we expect, then tough shit.

Back to my original point about striking in general – stopping work makes sense as a protest but as anything but a “toy-out-of-pram” act of defiance it must not work. Showing that you care enough about the job that you are willing to not work is backwards logic, is it not?