December 14, 2016

It’s time to end union militancy

It’s time to end union militancy

The time has come for the government to ban strikes in the public sector and in those industries, such as the railways, that receive a public subsidy, says Peter Bingle.

One of Margaret Thatcher’s greatest achievements was trade union reform. She rightly sensed that voters had had enough of trade union militancy and acted to curtail their power.

Although it is now a distant memory, the ‘winter of discontent’ was the moment when the unions overreached themselves. Rubbish piled up in streets. The dead were unable to be buried. The then Labour government seemed powerless to control the issue to the point that political commentators were asking: “Is Britain governable?”

Thatcher took on the union barons. She had no time for union militants and the public supported her reforms. Even the all-powerful National Union of Mineworkers was unable to break her resolve. Union power dissipated. Membership started to decline. Militancy became a thing of the past.

Fast forward thirty years, however, and there are worrying signs of union militancy returning. The most blatant example is the long running dispute between the management of Southern Rail and their train drivers and guards, a dispute that has caused misery for commuters who simply want to be able to go to work.

Put to one side the fact that the management of Southern Rail is totally inept to the extent that it deserves to be stripped of its franchise, this dispute is about militancy pure and simple. Nobody is going to lose their job. Salaries are not going to be reduced. The dispute centres on who should be responsible for closing train doors!

The basic task of door closing is currently undertaken by guards. Southern Rail want the responsibility transferred to drivers with the guards focusing instead on looking after the wellbeing of the passengers. This is the stuff of comedy but it has become instead an obscene tragedy in which the unions’ contempt for train passengers has become painfully obvious.

So too has the need for government to have more powers to resolve industrial disputes in the public serves. Ronald Reagan famously fired air traffic controllers because of their unreasonable behaviour. Perhaps the government should have the power to do the same. There are many people who would do almost anything for a job. If guards and drivers on the Brighton to Victoria line don’t want to work perhaps they should all be fired?

The time has surely come when the government should ban strikes in the public sector and in those industries, such as the railways, that receive a public subsidy and are awarded franchises by a government created regulator.

Why shouldn’t unions have to pay compensation to customers who suffer because of their members’ unacceptable behaviour? The public mood is angry and the worrying signs of a new union militancy need to be curtailed now before they grow. Do ministers have the courage to do so?

Thatcher took on the unions because they were acting unreasonably and posed a threat to the democratic process. People have a right to go about their daily business without having to worry about whether or not their trains will run. Theresa May needs to show that she is a modern but true Thatcherite when it comes to union militancy. Those voters who are just about managing will back her to the hilt if she takes on the militants. Will she do so?

4.89 avg. rating (97% score) - 18 votes
Peter Bingle
Peter is the Founder of Terrapin Communications. With a career in politics and communications that has spanned almost four decades, he is one of the country's leading public affairs practitioners. His career has seen him advise many top companies, including McDonald’s, HSBC, L’Oreal, Permira, Motorola, Camelot, Rolls Royce & Kellogg's.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. and

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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