Saturday, 31 October 2009

Now is (not) the winter of our discontent

Personally, I’d be happy to return to an era when the pop charts were filled with classics by The Police, Pink Floyd and The Boomtown Rats (though I’ll pass on Dr Hook, The Bee Gees and Lena Martell), but it seems that despite a rash of strikes involving Royal Mail, British Airways refuse collectors and the fire service, fears of a return to the UK-wide strikes of 1979 are overstated.

The CIPD’s employee relations adviser recently said that the UK was unlikely to face a repeat of the “winter of discontent”. He claimed that the disputes in Royal Mail and the transport sector were “anomalies in terms of industrial relations, because the government is still seen as the ultimate banker or guarantor of service continuing”

The adviser did add, however, that during the current recession, the private sector would “still have lower levels of industrial action because of changed staff attitudes and an increasing need to be competitive globally.” He also predicted there would be more strikes in the public sector, particularly after the likely spring general election. This prediction is based on the assumption that there would be a backlash against a new Conservative government proposing to introduce legislation to deal with industrial relations in essential services.

Sounds pretty much like 1979 to me.

By the way: best selling UK single of 1979? Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel.


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