Ministers back strikes just as long as they are ineffective

Friday, 24th June

Parliament

‘Yes, government ministers defend the right to strike they insist, but that again illustrates their hypocrisy’

• CONSERVATIVE ministers find it easy to blame the transport strikers for the considerable disruption caused to many people this week. Those ministers, as ever, find it difficult to avoid hypocrisy. Indeed, far from avoiding, they wallow in it.

If, as ministers proclaim, the strikers are “punishing” people by preventing them from getting to hospitals for vital medical treatment, and their children to schools, then how much more so has the government been punishing those very individuals and many more by deliberately underfunding the NHS, social care and education for over a decade. And by leaving many communities with no public transport?

If, as ministers declare in shock and horror, the strikers are showing themselves to be “greedy”, why do those ministers fail to condemn exceptionally well-paid corporate directors, fund managers, and media celebrities, who eagerly hold out for yet more money through increased fees or huge bonuses?

If, as ministers explode, the strikers are “holding the country to ransom”, why no explosive outrage at the corporations and incredibly wealthy who threaten to leave the country unless allowed to evade taxes – oops, I mean, allowed new tax avoidance tricks?

If, as sad-eyed ministers charge, the strikers have little care for those much worse off, the vulnerable, the homeless, desperate refugees having survived raging waters, then that charge can easily and rightly be levelled against the ministers and, in fact, many of us, especially the most well-off.

Of course, the government’s hypocritical language is deployed to stir the non-striking public to rage against the strikers. Yes, government ministers defend the right to strike they insist, but that again illustrates their hypocrisy. Strikes are only acceptable, it seems, if they adversely affect no one save the strikers.

The conclusion is that government ministers support employees exercising their right to strike, but only if the strikes are destined to be ineffective. And then no outrage is required.

PETER CAVE, W1

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