Monday, 19 October 2009

Up the Workers

I always hate the way the mainstream media reports on strikes. Particularly the TV. They always start with the negative effects: 'Thousands of commuters were left stranded today...' 'Holidaymakers were trapped in airports all over Europe this morning...' 'Today, hundreds of irritating children were forced to spend an entire day in the company of the soul-dead, middle-class meatsacks who spawned them as teachers went on strike...' etc etc.

I know I run the risk of being called a conspiracy theorist here, but I honestly believe they do this to try and convince you that the unions are your enemy. That it's the RMT who are fucking the shit out of you on a daily basis, rather than the barely mammalian scum who run the rail companies. If you thought about it, of course, you'd realise that the train drivers are as screwed over as you are, maybe more so: you only have to get on the train twice a day, they're there the whole bloody time. And they have to deal with potential derangements, suicides or idiots getting onto the track, and probably a whole load of bullshit targets about arriving at 80% of all main interchanges within a 2-minute margin of error of the 'on-time' time on at least 60% of all 'peak-time' journeys, 'peak-time' being defined as any time when the railway is operating at 72% or more of total passenger capacity...All you have to do is avoid making eye contact with the obvious psychos and try not to breathe in too much BO from the person you're jammed in right next to.

Same with any strike. The workers are the ones making things hard for you. If they just did what the bosses told them, your life would be much better. Only it won't.

Take teaching. Lots of teachers have struck in Durham recently over plans to create so-called 'academy' schools (declaration of interest here: my soon-to-be-ex-wife is one of those teachers). They aren't doing this just because they want to make mischief. They're doing it because they genuinely believe, and most of the facts seem to support them on this, that academies are not great (or even safe) learning environments for many children. They're anti-democratic, and make a mockery of our national education system. The teachers, being committed to that system, object to this, and choose to do so with the most powerful weapon in a worker's arsenal: the withdrawal of their labour. Hearteningly, many of the local parents in Durham agree with the teachers on this - Durham was hit harder than many places by MagThatch's war on the coal miners, and sympathy for the unions, and distrust of privatising authority remains strong. This has annoyed some in the mainstream media, because they haven't been able to get their 'unions vs. the people' narrative off the ground.

They're having more luck with the imminent postal strike. Again and again we hear about small businesses which won't be able to deliver goods, christmas cards arriving late, and a whole host of reasons to play the world's smallest violin on behalf of the consumer. What we don't hear about is how the consumer is actually being screwed by the people in charge of the Royal Mail, and even more by the people in those private companies which parasitize on it.

You won't find that on the evening news, in the red-tops or the Daily Mail. To find out about that side of the story, you need to read this article from the London Review of Books. 'Granny Smith', by the way, is the affectionate name the posties have for their average end-consumer i.e. you:

'We were told that the emphasis these days should be on the corporate customer. It was what the corporations wanted that mattered. We were effectively being told that quality of service to the average customer was less important than satisfying the requirements of the big businesses.
Someone piped up in the middle of it. "What about Granny Smith?" he said. He’s an old-fashioned sort of postman, the kind who cares about these things.
"Granny Smith is not important,"was the reply. "Granny Smith doesn’t matter any more."'

You're not important. You don't matter anymore. Not to the unions, but to the people who want to carve up the Royal Mail and sell it off. They're the ones who want to shaft you. They're the ones who are going to make it harder for you to get your post, in the long-run. And what's more, they don't care. To them, you're collateral damage: an acceptable loss in the quest for higher corporate profits.

Think about that the next time you see some talking head on the news bleating about Christmas cards.

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