Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If you're going to go on strike ...

I can claim no expertise with regards to industrial relations, but surely one rule of thumb for a union is that you should not go on strike if it's even vaguely possible that your employer would be just as happy to close the operation where you work? Well, the employees at our (publicly funded & run) local recycling center went on strike about two months ago and there seems to be little appetite to reopen the place. I can imagine that the County Manger is enjoying the added "revenues" he's getting so long as the center is closed. And, seeing as (a) it's not really essential and (b) it was probably only used by 20% (or so) of the local people (and that estimate is probably high) the workers may have overestimated their power.

The truth is I don't really know the ins and outs of the dispute. It's entirely possible that the workers are being so mistreated that a strike was the only option. I don't know, but the fact that I don't know and I was a fairly regular user of the center and even I've gotten over the center's closure shows how slight the workers' hold over their employer was.

Something else that I was interested in is the nature of going on strike. In the picture I pasted above there is no human being near the center; yet that was the middle of a workday when the center should have been open. Shouldn't the workers have been picketing there?

The strikers had left a few of their signs on a bench near the entrance and that was the only sign that the center wasn't simply closed down. That's not my impression of being on strike.