Monday, 2 February 2009

There May Will Be Trouble, Ahead...

Angry workers are plotting a week of co-ordinated wildcat action which could throw key services into chaos.

Unions insisted yesterday that they have no control over workers who are using websites and text messages to organise the illegal strikes.

The action could threaten energy and fuel supplies during the coldest winter for more than a decade, with snow already causing havoc last night.
This will no doubt spur on the government’s plans to crack down on that damned net, where all the proles hang out and make mischief!
The workers say they feel betrayed that the Prime Minister's pledge of 'British jobs for British workers' has not been kept, with migrants employed while UK staff lose their jobs.

A website named The Bear Facts, specifically set up to co-ordinate action, has promised the industrial dispute will intensify in the coming days.

One message used class-war rhetoric to declare: 'The Employer shakes with fear as the sleeping Giant begins to wake. The fight is on, Brothers! The fight is on!'

A union insider admitted that the protesters are 'completely and utterly bypassing us'.
Of course they are. You are now seen as part of the problem, not as part of the solution; wasting union dues on hopeless causes, promoting all the trendy ‘equality and diversity’ policies, and promising the earth to your members yet being unable to deliver it. Things like this haven’t helped, either...
As the fury grows, there is increasing talk about a boycott of Total's 850 petrol stations in the UK. Total owns Lindsey, the power plant in Killingholme, near Grimsby, which sparked the current crisis because 100 Italian and Portuguese workers are being used on a construction site there.

Some Italian workers, who sleep on prison-like barges in Grimsby docks, have already returned home amid fears for their safety.

More than 5,500 supporters have joined a forum on the Facebook website which is being used to express backing for the illegal strike action. Another site, UK Welder, was forced to close down yesterday to all 'unmoderated' messages after it was hijacked by strike plotters.
Let’s hope today’s big freeze cools tempers, or this could indeed get nasty.
Privately ministers believe their hands are tied by liberal EU labour market rules and Mr Brown's commitment at the World Economic Forum in Davos to fight against a return to protectionism.
Yet they don’t want to have to admit that...

Meanwhile in ‘CiF’, Max Hastings has a pretty gloomy outlook for readers:
If I was a minister, or even a Tory minister-in-waiting, I would be very frightened by the picketing of oil refineries where contracts have been awarded to foreign workers. This is the start of something big, the first stirrings of an anger that is bound to grow. As long as there was full employment, the global marketplace merely meant watching televisions made in China and having complaints to BT answered by an Indian call centre.
And plenty of people were advising that that was unsustainable, but they were hushed and pooh-poohed and ridiculed. Not so much now...
Now, however, globalisation becomes a source of rage and frustration for millions of British people losing jobs and running out of money. The importance of the recession is less about what happens to us this year or in 2010, than about the historic revelation that Britain is not the successful society that governments told its people that it was.
More fool anyone who believed it. But there were many, many people who did, and who now look around them in horrified realisation...

Will the government swallow the bitter pill Max prescribes?
There will be far less cash for both public and private purposes. Whatever short-term spending expedients the government adopts to address the credit crunch, it is impossible for the Treasury to relieve every suffering interest group. It cannot bankroll us all to buy Range Rovers and Jaguars. It is neither here nor there whether Alistair Darling raises taxes on the rich and George Osborne keeps them there, though this will be essential to mitigate social tensions. Britain cannot borrow beyond a certain point, because it will become too poor a credit risk.

For two decades, while we have been a greedy society, we have also flattered ourselves that we were a compassionate one. We threw money at all sorts of supposedly deserving causes, because we thought we could afford it. In future, Britain will have to become harsher and nastier, because there will be no money to be anything else.
This does, indeed, look like a drunkard’s remorseful hangover. Sadly, Gordon and Dave’s solytions are to reach for a slightly cheaper bottle of plonk to wash away their sorrows.

It isn’t going to work, no matter what soundbites they produce, because they are no longer steering the ship:
Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron know there is no refuge in protectionism, "British jobs for British workers". Even if such a policy was legal within the EU, which it is not, as a trading nation we would merely wall ourselves into economic stagnation.
That looks like the road the US is going down...
British workers will keep pay packets only if they perform skilled tasks which others cannot, or provide their services for substantially smaller real rewards than they have received in the past. Anyone who has met young Chinese and Indians of the new generation perceives their tigerish hunger, as well as their skills. Unless the British education system is galvanised to enable our own children to match these qualities, their future will be bleak. They will be fit only to be global losers. Devaluation of exam results hides the truth from ourselves, but not from the wider world.
Great! Overhaul our education system and we’ll be in a much better position in, oh, say 15-20 years time! Marvellous!
Profligacy with public funds, which we take for granted, must stop because the cash will be needed to succour the poor and unemployed. Last week the Northern Ireland Consultative Group on the Past proposed giving cheques for £12,000 to the families of each of the 2,700 fatal victims of the Troubles. Most of the wrangling about this has focused on whether dead paramilitaries should be eligible. Yet it seems insane to contemplate such a gesture to anybody, when Northern Ireland is already a state dependency.
Preach it, brother! ;)
All available funds will be needed for core state obligations - infrastructure renewal and protection of those in real want. The council house building programme announced by Gordon Brown on Wednesday deserves applause. Too many people have been lured into unsustainable home ownership. Business cannot be loaded with new workforce social obligations, and the whole European Union will have to abandon its fantasies about this. Cuts in public sector pay and benefits will become essential, to avoid a headlong clash between the plight of private employees and the privileged status of state dependants, above all on pensions.
Nice dreams, Max, but I’m not sure anyone could halt the juggernaut now. Better just hang on for the ride of our lifetimes!


Lorenzo said...

I predict Britain's building and construction workers next target for a mass long term picket will be the London Olympic sites which will be forced into over running their need to be ready dates thus with other troubles will end up leading to the cancellation of the Tessa Jowell, Lord Coe Olympics.

Odin's Raven said...

Oh joy! Please cancel the Olympics and bankrupt all those who authorised public spending on what should be a private project.

JuliaM said...

"I predict Britain's building and construction workers next target for a mass long term picket will be the London Olympic sites..."

They were predicting (in one paper this morning) that this wouldn't be affected, because over 70% of workers on 2012 projects were British.

But yes, cancelling this huge white elephant would be at least ONE good thing to come out of the recession...

Sue said...

I'm afraid this is the straw that broke the camels back for Britons. Most of us knew something would happen eventually, the mood was just getting too ugly.

Worse to come methinks!

JuliaM said...

"Most of us knew something would happen eventually, the mood was just getting too ugly."

It's been brewing for a while, but I can't help thinking this is the wrong time for it...

Oldrightie said...

Are they really Italians and Portugese? Anybody know?

Nick von Mises said...

One thing I would support with public funds: have all the soon-to-be-picketing construction workers build a new network of prisons. Then throw them in.

Anonymous said...

Wait till the Summer. If we have any sort of summer, 2009 will make 1981 look like a good-natured sing-song. There is going to be serious rioting and disorder.

I really am quite worried by what this year is going to bring.

JuliaM said...

"I really am quite worried by what this year is going to bring."

Me too... :(