Warnings from history as public sector strike action looms

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From: Jack Brown, Lamb Lane, Monk Bretton, Barnsley.

I WAS chairman of a TGWU private industry branch and Barnsley TUC when the 1984-5 miners’ strike began.

As a county councillor serving on the Police Authority and educated by the 1982 steel strike, I feared where we were treading.

Now I watch fools, intoxicated by the exuberance of their own verbosity, rushing into strike action.

They are fools because they have learned nothing from the NUM experience. They will fail (Unison may not even get a vote for action) because the 1984-5 strike confirmed the 1926 lesson that union solidarity is a myth.

If strike breakers seriously affected NUM solidarity, what will they do to the public sector hydra? Its leaders will be lucky if they get unanimity for one day of token stoppages; they will certainly not get support from their low-paid members whose derisory pensions have suddenly become a bone of contention. Even the notoriously useless “public sympathy” will be absent.

Millions of OAPs, millions of private sector workers on minimum wage or slightly above and millions on drastically curtailed State Benefit (a friend has just lost £200 per month Carer’s Allowance) believe the public sector was cossetted by the 1997-2010 Labour governments.

If the strike does begin, it will not long survive strike-breaking tactics exercised in the 1982 strike and perfected in 1984-5.

For the first time, the full forces of the State were unleashed. Demands for mass action thereafter are lemming-like. For that reason, the Government must try to sever the connection between the unions and Labour. It must change industrial law so that unionists opt into, rather than out of, payment of the political levy. Union leaders will then have to concentrate on the interests of their members – as in Unite versus British Airways – rather than indulge their political daydreams.

From: Roger M Dobson, Ash Street, Cross Hills, Keighley.

DO not the working people of this country ever learn?

In 1984-85, the miners went on strike for almost 12 months with an end result of almost closing down the coal industry.

What do the supposedly- intelligent teachers think they will achieve by striking on June 30?

The Secretary of State for Education may not be the brightest button in the drawer but the proposed strikes will give him the chance to alter the education system in this country to his every whim.

Any other groups intending to strike on June 30 are obviously led by self-centred political activists and like the self-centred teachers deserve but one result – the sack with reinstatement to be only on the conditions of the employers.

From: G Ellison, Hawthorn Avenue, Dronfield.

WHEN it comes to workers’ rights, pay, conditions and pensions, then give them the same as politicians who give themselves pay rises, pensions and perks.

Problem solved. After all, we’re in this together, as David Cameron and Co bore us to death with – and many politicians claim they do not earn enough.

From: Tom Howley, Marston Way, Wetherby.

I HARDLY dare to put into print the contempt I feel for people who are not prepared to fight to protect their living standards (Yorkshire Post, June 22).

Public sector workers who strike to maintain their living standards should be congratulated for protesting against an unfairness.

Will ex-bank boss Fred Goodwin and his fellow-conspirators need to strike to protect their pensions?