We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

I support the Public Sector going on strike

I support the Public Sector in the UK going on strike… in fact I hope they all stay out on strike for a really, really, really long time.

28 comments to I support the Public Sector going on strike

  • Vulgar Madman

    Are you mad? How can civilization survive without them?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perry–but–but–but, don’t you realize the gov’t would have to shut down?

    Who would sign the laws?

  • Slartibartfarst

    Enough of the “really’s” already.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Julie near Chicago:
    Who would sign the laws?
    The EU would sign them, as they effectively are doing now. Brits would thus all be better off under full EU membership.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    When government shuts down it ought to be like a slow driver pulling off the road. But in fact it’s like a slow driver coming to a stop in the middle of the pavement so that nobody can get by. When government workers go on strike, all government requirements are still there: only the ability to deal with the requirements disappears.

  • Tedd


    Your comment reminds me of Bucky Fuller’s comment about government being like someone driving an ox cart on a freeway.

  • Regional

    The Gubbmint shut down?
    That would be bad thing?

  • As we saw when the US federal government “shut down”, all it mean was the jobsworths were being more obstructionist than usual.

  • Paul Marks

    It would indeed save a lot of taxpayer money if the strikers just did not come back.

  • Wild Eyed But Probably Correct

    picketline + machine gun = problem solved

  • PeterT

    The best thing about the strike is that the unions lose public sector support. I can’t see a majority of people objecting to Cameron’s proposed reforms. That said, I did see a headline which said something like ‘if Cameron’s union reforms applied to the general election he would not be prime minister’. Probably true but that is an argument for a reform of voting rules for the general election along the lines proposed for union voting, not against reforming union voting!

  • Roue le Jour

    PeterT, I presume you meant ‘public support’ not ‘public sector support’?

    I’ve said before that any serious Conservative government should go for the teachers with a machete. They are a major power base for the Labour party and not particularly popular with the public. It’s a win-win situation.

  • PeterT

    Yes, that is what I meant. Fingers faster than brain.

    I too have no idea why the Conservatives don’t just put in their manifesto that all parents will be given a voucher that they can use for private schools. Likely to be massively popular with parents – especially Dianne Abbott.

  • Ian Bennett

    I too have no idea why the Conservatives don’t just put in their manifesto that all parents will be given a voucher that they can use for private schools

    As with the Nursery Voucher scheme 17 years ago, immediately killed by the incoming Labour government.

  • bradley13

    The thing is – I confess I haven’t looked this up – but I would bet that they are still being paid while on strike. Tell me I am wrong?

    The next question: Is there any reason not to simply fire the striking workers? I mean, if they are unsatisfied with their earnings, perhaps someone else can be found…

  • Ian, if Conservatives acted like conservatives, there would be no incoming Labor governments.

  • Jerry

    ‘ Is there any reason not to simply fire the striking workers? ‘

    Some federal gov’t workers sign agreements to not strike. That’s essentially how Ronald Reagan was able to fire the air traffic controllers in 1981. In any case, I agree, if they strike, fire’em. At some point they just might realize that they really don’t NEED a union. What a revolutionary concept !!

    If you can stop paying them when they strike &/or fire them, would you then start working on the proposal that those of us who do not have children in schools should not have to pay school taxes !!!??? Thanks in Advance for anything you can do in that area 😉

  • Hmm

    Government employees permanently striking would be a truly wonderful thing if it included, or even better – started with the Media going on strike!

  • Laird

    In the US, most government employees are covered by some form of civil service rules. These were adopted to protect the rank and file from being fired whenever a new administration came into office, as had previously often been the case (“to the victor goes the spoils”). The quid pro quo to these protections and the very strong job security was that government employees got paid less than their private counterparts. All in all a reasonably fair arrangement.

    However, that has all now changed. Government employees are still basically impossible to fire, but numerous studies have shown that frequently they are paid more than the private sector. And now they have unions on top of Civil Service (which makes absolutely no sense unless you’re a union official, or a politician looking for union contributions). And they still sometimes go on strike, which is generally illegal but almost never punished. What usually happens is the government and the union negotiate a new agreement which gives the employees most of what they wanted, along with back pay for the strike period and a guarantee of no punishment. (Reagan’s treatment of the air traffic controllers is memorable because it’s so rare. Name another similar instance. I can’t.) It’s a gigantic racket. Which is why I don’t support public sector strikes, notwithstanding the pleasant fantasy that it gets these drones temporarily out of the way. Such strikes are disasters for the taxpayers, who get fleeced even more, and for the public, who get inconvenienced.

    Firing is too good for them. Unions should be illegal for anyone covered by Civil Service. Choose one or the other.

  • Mr Ed

    Is there anything legally* stopping a President declaring some or all civil servants ‘enemy combatants’ and shipping them all off to a Brig or Guántanamo?

    Just as a way to induce mass resignations and career changes, naturally.

    * as opposed to ‘constitutionally‘, giving the Constitution its natural, un-judicially varnished meaning?

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, I don’t think there’s anything legally stopping this president from declaring you* or me as “enemy combatants” and shipping us off to Guantanamo. But he wouldn’t do it to our civil servants; they’re his core constituency.

    * Of course, in your case since I think you’re in Britain he would probably have to resort to the use of “extraordinary rendition” to get his hands on you, although I would note that your government has been remarkably accommodating in delivering up its citizens to Uncle Sam’s tender mercies.

  • Mr Ed

    laird, indeed here in the UK no jury may sit in judgment on us to see if we have done wrong should a US extradition request arise, there’s no way to test the evidence before facing a court in the Land of the Free. I was daydreaming of a mischievous but liberty-minded successor to the incumbent President finding a shortcut to a government shutdown and then nailing down the coffin of the Beast that is the Federal bureaucracy, most of whom are perfectly nice people, following regulations.

  • Jerry

    Laird, I can’t think of another instance of firings either.

    Perhaps dissolving certain branches could be the route –
    Start with the Department of Energy which has never created a single watt of energy.
    And exactly WHAT does the ‘Department of the Interior’ DO ??
    Though, as you say, actually firing them would still be problematic.

    Given your choice of Civil Service coverage or unionization – as a private sector employee, I’d let them have ( yes, they actually do WORK FOR US ), I’d let them have the Civil Service coverage !!!

  • Laird

    Jerry, I’d start with the Department of Education. An absolute waste of billions on what is quintessentially a local (or at least state) concern. Energy would be OK, too. But Interior is actually one of the oldest federal agencies. It manages the federal lands (mostly out west) and, I think, all federal buildings. Until we sell off (or transfer to the states) most of the federal lands (those holdings within states are unconstitutional anyway) I think we’ll need to keep Interior.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, a very good choice. I suppose *sigh* we have to let the States do what they want, but I would appeal to the Great Frog to urge the States to decide to stop contributing both $ and requirements and even advice to intra-State schools, and in fact to leave it up to people at the township level. (For those not in the U.S., townships are jurisdictions between the county and the city levels.) Or to subdivisions of the latter, if the residents so choose. Or whatever.

    BATFE. At the moment it seems to me they ought to be chopped next. Even though they’re only a division of DOJ. I hope it’s understood that I mean not just the name and the organization chart, but the functionality, the mission, the assigned tasks and subtasks.

  • Nick (Blame FrenchMEN) Gray

    Alisa, Cameron’s cunning plan is for Scotland to become independent, and take most of the Labour seats with it, leaving a Tory paradise in the south (Eutoria?). The name ‘conservative’ implies that they’ll keep (conserve) all the big-government powers bequeathed to them by past parties. And everyone thinks he’s AGAINST Scotland going its’ own way!

  • Laird

    Julie, by “chopped” I hope you mean the individuals there, too!

  • […] public sector strike the other day, which Perry welcomed and I did not notice, was nominally about austerity. I have heard various conflicting claims about […]