If there is one thing guaranteed to wind up an Englishman, it is delaying his journey from A to B.
Keep him waiting on a platform, terminal or dockside, then you are cruising for a verbal bruising at least. Keep us waiting because you are on strike then you can go to hell because, despite all the political posturing over the right to take industrial action, it isn’t a very English thing to do.
Striking is probably the only thing that the French will beat us hands down at because causing disruption is at odds with our nation’s psyche. So why is there a sizeable chunk of the population who are so determined that the ‘right to strike’ is not diminished by a Tory Government which is clearly enjoying the freedom of going it alone after having had to operate with the Lib Dem handbrake on for five years?
For the pro-strikers argue that having the ability to strike is a right and one that has been cherished by working classes for many generations. They are opposed to the Trade Union Bill, which would mean that 50 per cent of a workforce would have to turn out for a ballot on industrial action for it to be legal, along with a proposal which would mean that unions would have to give 14 days’ notice of a strike to employers, giving bosses the chance to bring in agency staff as cover.
Opponents claim it will make it “almost impossible” for workers to exercise a democratic right and a civil liberty, but many will ask what is wrong with insisting that potential mass disruption is not wreaked by a vocal minority?
But to me striking seems a very outdated practice. Many of us will recall the last major teachers’ strike, back in 2008, and one which gave parents everywhere a headache. But we all survived that inconvenience and that was arguably the last time our nation has shared the pain of industrial action.
Yes, we have seen our transport networks disrupted, but the average worker is more resilient than their counterparts of the 1980s.
The dawn of flexible and remote working means many office workers will log on from the comfort of their living rooms rather than venture into the City and be at the mercy of a chopsy trade union official.
It may well be because of this huge shift in working practices that direct industrial action is no longer as effective as it was. Surely there are plenty of opportunities to make a strong case in other ways.
There are many who view direct industrial action as archaic and the preserve of a selfish minority.