Beating the strike, slowly

08Sep10

Excuse me a minute while I resettle, oof, the trousers of pain. Aiee. I bin doing a bit of walking lately, and the old legules are feeling it somewhat. It’s all down to the tube strike (‘LONDON GRINDS TO A HALT’), which seems to have been greeted with hysteria. On the news last night (‘HARDY LONDONERS DETERMINED TO BEAT THE STRIKE’) there were some people interviewed outside a main line railway station who seemed astonished that they’d found it difficult to take public transport. ‘We waited 10 minutes for a bus,’ chuffed one ‘but then [with an air of outraged munificence] we just ended up walking.’ Oh my God, you WALKED? You actually decided that the two stalks sprouting out of the lower edge of your arse might do more than simply hold up your socks? Since the young gentleman in question was somewhat soft of silhouette, I’d hazard that yes, walking seemed to him a cruel and unusual carry-on.

Actually, the Northern Line was the only one working, so I could have got the tube in and out as usual. Digression: people are always so rude about the Norvern Line – why? It’s one of the oldest, yet it’s the most reliable. A faithful old workhorse that everyone grumbles about, it even worked during the snow when everything else packed up. But I decided to walk, partly because I wanted to see if I could do it, partly because I thought the N Line would be jammed, and partly – old-fashioned notion though it is – out of solidarity for the strikers. Not very keen on breaking strikes, meself.

But jeez, was solidarity in short supply. I had an argument on the subject with someone in the office as soon as I got in. We weren’t the most appropriate antagonists, since I regularly walk and he always cycles, so our dealings with the tube are pretty optional, but then again we were the only two in because everyone else was stuck in traffic. He said that anyone in public services who went on strike should be fired. Couldn’t let that one lie, so off I went on industrial unrest, social organisation, collective bargaining and the principles of social cohesion. My argument boils down to: Bugger that, workers have to push back or employers think they can do anything they want.

Oh, and also on the news, a minister saying that this sort of strike would put off foreign investment. WHAT? Blaming the prolonged recession on the soon-to-be-unemployed for not going quietly enough? Nice. In short: employers must have absolutely free rein and workers must accept it, otherwise foreign Mr Gradgrinds won’t want to set up shop here. Lose your job for the greater good. Well, balls to that.

Back to the trousers. I walked out and in and out again (though the sprightly saunter was a head-down plod by the end), which added up to 25 miles in 25 hours. As I sat in the bath last night, wiggling my toes and trying to soak out tired muscles, it dawned on me that that’s 1 m.p.h. and I nearly cried.

A postscript to the above, some hours later, from an article by David Edmonds in Prospect magazine. He’s writing on hypothetical moral exercises (is it ok to kill one person if that death will save five other lives etc). One particular behavioural scientist, Frances Kamm, ‘…takes seriously the separateness of persons, the idea that an individual’s wellbeing shouldn’t just be dissolved into some giant vat of wellbeing soup.’ Exactly! Don’t take redundancy on the chin! Strike, baby, strike!

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4 Responses to “Beating the strike, slowly”

  1. Hey, nice post. Also the date seem to be distorted and overlapping each other. I am running Chrome, you might want to fix that.

    • 2 vanessaharriss

      Thanks! But along with old-fashioned, socialist-flavoured views, I sport old-fashioned ignorance about softywarey thingules. Sorry, I honestly don’t know what to do about the Chrome niggles. Though I would probably use that as the name of any band I might form.

  2. 3 PaulW

    Hey, my Chrome is also overlapping. No it isn’t. Not really. In fact, I don’t even know what Chrome is. I just wanted to feel that I belonged to something hip and new. *sob*
    I walk. I don’t bovver with the tube, except when I am running late. Quite often, my lateness is simply rubber-stamped by passing through the gates. In a way the validation is relaxing. It’s an old system, we’re jolly lucky to have it at all and it’s so much better than in the ’70s when I first used it to mooch about the city with a Sainsbury’s carrier bag of sandwiches and a skateboard. So pay up and we can all get on with our pathetic lives.

  3. 4 vanessaharriss

    You had a whole carrier bag of sandwiches? That skateboard must have had to earn its keep. Did it have 18 wheels and caterpillar tracks? Haahahahahaha.


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