Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Colleagues: FYI

This is stuck up in my office.

If you scabbed - and we know who you are - then you shouldn't expect any social niceties from me henceforth. I'm very proud that nobody in either of my departments is a picket-line crossing selfish traitor. I've already met one of these worms and declined to pass the time of day.

It's a simple rule. You don't scab, and you don't cross properly constituted picket lines. For instance, I'd have ignored the fuel protesters a few years ago because they were selfish bastards already in receipt of subsidies, demanding higher profits at the expense of the public and the environment. But in most cases, strikes are a collective last resort and should be supported or respected.

By crossing the picket line, these co-workers declared that they were somehow special, better than us, and stronger as individuals. There's a good lesson in Lewis Jones's We Live (1939), in which collective strength is demonstrated by the union members letting go of the coal cart on an incline. The man who refused to join the union is taught the virtues of solidarity as he strains to stop it rolling over him - after a few minutes he's begging for help.

Certain of my colleagues could do with this kind of demonstration - and will get it when they find their former comrades strangely reluctant to stand up for them in a tight spot.


Ewarwoowar said...


The Plashing Vole said...

Who is that?

Blossom said...

At the risk of being shot down in flames, I have a bit of a problem with this one. I can understand your being pissed off with people who broke the picket line and I understand that by them doing this, it weakens the union's and the majority of employees' stance. However, by making the situation personal I feel this can also affect the majority's strength. Bear with me.

The story you alluded to, to show the power of solidarity, could be looked at two ways. The miner who kept on working would learn nothing if the striking miners did not help him. There's no point learning a lesson, if you're not given a chance to behave differently afterwards (in the case of your miner, by being squished). If these miners rose above their personal feelings and saved the non-union man then he got to see first hand why he should be standing with them. He could only do this after they'd shown him some compassion. Could it be argued that Lewis Jones's story is about rising above personal resentment to gain greater support?

There will be other strikes and more picket lines before long. People are more likely to bend to your way of thinking, and join you, if they don't feel cast out into the cold. Your personal feelings for them don't have to matter; all you're after, surely,
is the better deal for the majority with as much support as you can get.

The Plashing Vole said...

Hi Blossom, I do see your point (and you're clearly nicer than I am). If we stick with the Lewis Jones analogy, we're in the first stage: I've let go of the cart. My colleague deliberately walked through a picket line, declaring that he was special. If he needs help in future, he'll have to ask for it and explain himself - he'll get it, but only once he's accepted that being in a union is about solidarity. He's a member of the union - that's the betrayal. Colleagues who didn't join and didn't strike are sorely mistaken, but they haven't betrayed us.

Blossom said...

Seems he's wasting money on his union subs then, which is rather foolish. But yes, I agree with you on his betrayal. If you can't count on fellow union members to stick together, then there's little point in them being members.

'Union'; the clue's in the name, really.