A Strike of Stupidity?

The union’s cause is good, but their methods are questionable. Today’s strikes risk doing more harm than good.

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Today marks the largest general strikes in a generation, with up to two million public sector workers walking out over the issue of pensions. 

And this real world issue is penetrating our lovely Cambridge bubble, as the University and College Union is joining in with the industrial action. Over the last few days, students have been receiving a steady stream of emails detailing the cancelling and rescheduling of lectures. Surely, this can not be right?

Rescheduling lectures can’t be right

Industrial action and highly politicised squabbles will be affecting our learning, alongside that of hundreds of thousands of other students across the country. As an avowed leftie, I do sympathise with the public sector workers whose pensions are being squeezed by the government, who demand they work longer and contribute more to their pensions.

But I fear that striking will do the unions more harm than good. Private-sector workers already grumble about the supposed generosity of public sector pensions (in reality the average private pension in worth £280 more a year than a public one) and the disruption is affecting millions of people in Britain. But this does nothing to help the unions, who still have a reputation for bolshiness and intractability inherited from the huge strikes of the 1970s.

Industrial action also plays completely into the Tory government’s hands, who leap at the opportunity to get into some old-fashioned Thatcher-style union bashing, warning the country of the huge cost this strike will have for the country and blaming the failure of negotiations purely on the unions themselves.

The union’s cause is good, but their methods are questionable. They are risking losing public sympathy for a genuine grievance and risking polarising the country once more.

I view my lecture-free day not with delight at the chance to get some more sleep, but with concern for the future of organisations, which I really do believe are necessary to protect workers.