The great thing about the forthcoming long weekend is that it will give me a chance to catch up with those tedious jobs, the ironing, the general tidying, that I normally allow to go undone for long periods when I'm at work. After all, I hardly ever get visitors, so whether my books are in their allocated positions on the shelves or spread over the floor is not particularly relevant. More importantly, it frees up time for me to write blog entries, particularly when there is something well worth talking about.
One of those things caught my eye today - a political headline which will go largely unnoticed in the entirely unwarranted media frenzy that is kicking in already even though a date for the general election has yet to be set (so who do you want? That sadistic Scottish bully who took the economy down the toilet, the far-too-smooth public-school educated Toff who looks so earnest on interviews, it's as if his head is about to explode, or that...what's his name? The other guy.)
Okay, so my analysis of the situation is more than a little crude, and this entry will not be about the election. Regardless of who gets in, there will be tough decisions to be made, and the only thing that seems certain is that things are likely to get worse before they get better. Furthermore, if you work in the public sector, it's probably best to look away now, because we are the chief target for private sector media agitators, who see it as our responsibility to 'share the burden' (did we share the boom?)
Earlier today, for the second time in five months, the British judiciary have made a ruling that it is illegal for a trade union in Britain to strike. As before, the devil is in the detail, and as the union supporting the BA cabin crew were forced to reballot on the basis of a number of votes taken from workers who had already been made redundant, so now the RMT have had their noses bloodied for apparently collecting more 'yes' votes than there are workers in key areas, and balloting a number of signal boxes that don't exist.
I am sympathetic towards the trade union sides, particularly when you consider the sheer size of a national ballot and the organisation that must go into co-ordinating the voting. There are hundreds of thousands of ballot slips, to be delivered on time to the correct addresses, the response must be swiftly counted and the outcome delivered in a way that fully supports the media goals to be achieved from the outcome. It is an operation akin to a tap-dancing comedian delivering a long-winded joke to the most sceptical of audiences.
Even so, if the media stories about the RMT vote collections are true, it is vitally important that such things are not allowed to happen. As well as making all trade union supporters look like fools, it allows the management of companies like BA to undermine the efforts of those involved and use obfuscation to distort the true message that is being sent out.
It is little short of scandalous to see representatives of the main political parties criticising trade unionists for exercising their democratic right to strike. In these difficult financial times, low-paid workers do not desert their posts for days at a time for frivolous reasons. They do it, as the BA crews did, because they believe that cutting crew numbers leads to reduced safety for those on board and lower standards of service. They do it, as the RMT surely will when their members are re-balloted, because reduced maintenance could lead to more scenes like those at Hatfield and Potters Bar. It's worth remembering that while strikes may affect your holiday or travel plans in the short-term, it is the last resort option afforded to those who are there to deliver the service without the support of their own intransigent management.