Thursday, 30 June 2011


This morning's Today programme was instructive, with Francis Maude, normally a reliable Tory operator, up against Mark Serwotka, unelected leader of the PCS, the main union behind today's strike action. Pretty simple for Maude to be the voice of reason, you might think. But no.

Serwotka's straightforward questions about the government's alleged refusal to discuss key issues with the unions were simply not answered by Maude, who blathered and made a series of counter-claims which highlighted how difficult his position was. Maude was outflanked comprehensively by the union leader, supported by an increasingly exasperated Evan Davies.

I have never had any time for Mark Serwotka since his approach to his job is a throwback to the bad old days of unions squaring up to the government but credit to him, he destroyed Francis Maude. What a shame he can't bring these skills to the negotiating table to avoid an unwinnable strike which will simply harden government resolve. On this issue the unions have a good case. It is just a shame their leaders consistently let them down.

NB: I am a public sector pension holder.


  1. Maude was battered. What makes you state that it is"an unwinnable strike"? There are many possible outcomes, surely?

  2. Good question, Big G. I believe it is unwinnable because the unions are challenging the Tory government. Dave is the acceptable face of Conservatism but he cannot fully mask the true nature of that party, which is very right wing and which passionately hates unions. Dave has compromised with the coalition, he has compromised over health, he has compromised over court sentencing and he continues to compromise. Tories don't like that kind of 'grown up politics'.

    Can you imagine Dave surviving if he compromises with the unions?

    Mark Serwotka has been foolish in challenging the government too soon. His case is strong and he could have won this fight but, as I said, he is an old fashioned 'socialist' [in inverted commas because there is no such thing as a real socialist any more] so he chose a fight instead of robust negotiation and a clever media campaign. Serwotka has let down hundreds of thousands of public sector workers through his ideologically driven approach.

    What we have now is trench warfare and neither side can afford to back down but the government has the greater power so I expect it will win, which is a shame because Dave's approach - compromise - is obviously the most sensible one.

    That, in a nutshell, is why I think the strike is unwinnable. However, I am not all knowing, simply a humble blogger (oxymoron?), so you are correct: there are many possible outcomes.