Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Time to kill the unions

Bob Crow: thug.

As I have pointed out a number of times, there are no real cuts in prospect: in fact, spending will be some 9% higher in five years than it is now.

For those who don't understand, the Adam Smith Institute has published some handy figures, the textual highlights of which I reproduce below...
As this table shows, the government's proposed cuts are pretty small beer. In nominal terms, spending will rise every year. In real terms (assuming 2 percent a year price inflation) this equates to small cuts in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, followed by small rises in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Compared to the c.60% real terms public spending rise that took place under the previous government, this is, frankly, insignificant.
...

Current spending meanwhile (and almost all 'vital, front-line public services' fall into this category) will rise every year between now and 2015-16, even in real terms...
...

Now, OK, these are not exactly big rises - but nor are they swingeing cuts that will (a) have any significant effect on the economy or (b) on the public services-using population at large. What the coalition's spending plans really amount to is a five-year, real terms freeze of current expenditure, combined with three years of significant falls in capital expenditure. The overall impact of that is a a very small, real terms drop in TME (roundabout 1.5%) between now and 2015-16.

Now, personally, I don't think that there is any real reason to be calm, since this doesn't solve the problem of our fucking enormous deficit: as the Cobden Centre points out, the government is already effectively insolvent.

Leaving that aside—for the problem is so big that it boggles my tiny mind—one cannot quite see why the unions are making such a fuss; regardless, the leaders of the trades unions are gearing up for some seriously militant action.
A ‘call to arms’ for workers across the country to go out on strike in protest at Government spending cuts will be issued by a senior trade union leader today.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, will also urge employees in both the public and private sectors to take part in civil disobedience during a wave of 1930s-style all-out general strikes.

In a speech at the RMT annual conference in Aberdeen, he will say that “a sustained campaign of generalised strikes” was necessary due to the “fiscal fascism” being imposed by the Coalition Government.

So, the unions will go on strike and everyone will realise how much they don't need these people. If public transport is at a stand-still, people will drive to work (or wherever). If there is no other way to get to the office, the internet and access-anywhere applications will enable people to work from home.

The vast majority of people—especially those who are employed and productive—have very little interaction with the agents of the state services (which, of course, are rather more dominated by union members than private companies are).

The people who will be hit hardest will be those whom Bob and his fellow union buddies profess to be so very concerned about—the poor and the feckless.

Nice one, Bob.

What is doubly irritating, of course, is that we are paying for the unions' war against ourselves; and these chunks of cash are, as Mark Wallace points out, substantial.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has produced a crucial report on the Trade Unions today [PDF]—exposing the true scale to which unions are subsidised with taxpayers’ money.

As well as the Union Modernisation Fund, which lives on despite its growing notoriety, the TPA have uncovered 2,493 full time Union employees who are paid for by public sector bodies at a cost of £67.5 million a year.

This is crucial for two reasons. First, it means that key union overheads like recruitment and organising of branches are funded by the general public without their knowledge or approval. Even more importantly, it means that the levies raised from union members are freed up for campaigning war chests.

It is bad enough when politicians use our money to conspire against us, but what the Coalition is doing is insane.
Poilitically, and most importantly, what should be done about the Unions’ taxpayer-funding, and their political activities as a whole? It is telling that the payments to the union movement rose by 14% in Labour’s last year in office – they chose to buy union support (and donations) using taxpayers’ cash.

Some Conservatives may believe that by continuing these payments they will be able to keep the unions sweet. Far from it. The union movement as a whole is bitterly, eternally opposed to the essential spending cuts that must be carried out. They’ll merrily pocket cash from a Tory Government – but they certainly won’t change their tune just because the enemies they love to hate are foolish enough to appease them.

Continuing to make these payments would mean that the Coalition is actively subsidising groups who intend to apply political pressure against Coalition policies. Worse, when the inevitable strikes begin, those 2,493 paid officials will be manning the pickets, rallying the troops and helping to organise the disruption of public services. This is worse than appeasement – it’s helping to pay the wages of the opposing army.

Our New Coalition Overlords™ are effectively throwing our money at the unions, who then conspire to make our lives a misery—and to bring down the government which is authorising the payments.

Further, since union demands are almost always for shorter working hours and more pay, the government is paying these bastards large chunks of our money so that they can afford to lobby the government to be given even more of our hard-earned cash for doing even less work.

It is barking fucking insanity. And, frankly, it's deeply fucking insulting.

Still, it is time for the government to be libertarian: quite simply, the antiquated laws that prevent employers from sacking striking workers must be removed—as I proposed to Brendan O'Neill at the IEA debate.
In conversations afterwards, in the pub, I pointed this out to Brendan. I was consistent, I maintained, because—like him—I did not want the government propping up (and being lobbied by) business. But trades unions are just as much of a vested interest as the corporates. If one truly believes in libertarianism, then one should not support the laws against sacking strikers. In fact, there should be no government interference on either side.

The whole point of a trade union was to be able to motivate large numbers of workers so that, if an employer behaved unjustly, then they would have to negotiate because otherwise they couldn't carry out their business. This is far more true now—when most workers are skilled and require considerable training—than it was when the trades unions were first formed (when much of the work was repetitive manual labour).

In the end, Brendan appeared, at least, to agree with me that the state should be involved on neither side, although he still maintained the right to strike was one of the most fundamental. I countered that everyone has the right to strike, law or no law—they just don't have the right to remain employed if doing so.

I suspect that workers would be far less happy to vote for strikes if they were fully aware that there might be no job for them to return to. And all we would be doing is levelling the playing field.

As usual, I don't expect Our New Coalition Overlords™ to do anything so bold. However, I would hope that they would stop paying the union danegeld: history shows that giving into blackmail never works for long...

21 comments:

Akvavitix said...

Quicker we get rid of the CONDEM lot and get some people in with balls to sort this god awful mess out the better.

(Before some Liebour troll pops up, no I don't mean you twats)

In the mean time I think I will spend as much time as possible out of the UK.

Phil Dickens said...

"it is time for the government to be libertarian: quite simply, the antiquated laws that prevent employers from sacking striking workers must be removed"

Ah, so by "libertarian" (as ever) you mean giving the bosses the right to be authoritarian.

Being libertarian means genuine liberty for all. Your brand of "libertarianism" is just ceding the power of the state to private fucking tyranny.

Ian E said...

'Ah, so by "libertarian" (as ever) you mean giving the bosses the right to be authoritarian.'

What an absurd suggestion - the Devil is merely saying that bosses should have the right to employ who they wish, when they wish - and to dispense with those who dont fulfill their side of the employment deal! Just as workers can leave employment anytime they wish!

Roger Thornhill said...

Phil Dickens,

Have you heard of freedom of association?

Authoritarian? The reverse is true - the employer is FORCED to employ and pay someone in your view.

Don't like being under the threat of sacking or this "private tyranny" whatever that is? Form a collective or mutual, or join one. I think they are fine, most, if not all, Libertarians do, and I know DK does.

Difficult to form one unless you have a monopoly? Welcome to the real world - forming, building and running a company is bloody hard work and the last thing you need is to have to pay people who do not wish to contribute on your terms.

Rob said...

On the issue of cuts.

While the figures quotes are indeed correct at time of print are we not a bit premature? Most of the cuts are to be anounced in the CSR.

Friends in the civil service are preparinig for 30-40% cuts accross the board. Bearing in mind that a genuine 30% cut in spending would create a budget surplus assuming income and other expenditure stayed the same.

I thik we have to wait for the CSR before commenting.

Rob said...

Just to add that it is a sad day when the limit of my expectations is a budget surplus.

Phil Dickens said...

"What an absurd suggestion - the Devil is merely saying that bosses should have the right to employ who they wish, when they wish - and to dispense with those who dont fulfill their side of the employment deal! Just as workers can leave employment anytime they wish!"

Yes, and the citizens of despotic tyrannies can leave whenever they wish. Except, of course, that the relatively free democracies (and relatively good employers) exist because of people refusing to simply leave and organising and agitating for change.

In both cases, we're talking about someone who claims a monopoly of violence over a given area and desires rigid control over the productive people in that area they grow fat off the backs of. That one is the state the other private property is incidental.

To talk of the "freedom" of autocrats - public or private - is to abuse the word.

"Authoritarian? The reverse is true - the employer is FORCED to employ and pay someone in your view."

No. I just have an objection to binning someone off because they stood up for themselves and tried to improve things.

"Don't like being under the threat of sacking or this "private tyranny" whatever that is? Form a collective or mutual, or join one."

And if there are too many hurdles to overcome (like the practicalities of living hand-to-mouth) then we just accept bad conditions in the workplace?

Fuck off.

I've yet to be convinced that a right-wing "Libertarian" isn't just a conservative capitalist who isn't currently holding the whip.

DocBud said...

Employment is simply a contract between two people. I want someone's skills and make them an offer, they are free to accept that offer or not, in the latter case offering alternative conditions which they would find acceptable, which I in turn am free to accept or not.

If at a later stage, the person no longer wishes to work for me, they may resign, just as if I no longer have a need for their skills I can terminate their employment.

What is quite ridiculous is the notion that the person can stop working as a means to force me to amend the freely entered into conditions, yet I'm not allowed to say, "if you don't like it, sod off".

"we're talking about someone who claims a monopoly of violence over a given area and desires rigid control over the productive people in that area they grow fat off the backs of."

Sounds like you're talking about socialist governments and union bosses, Phil.

Roger Thornhill said...

Following on from what Doc Bud so right says...


"And if there are too many hurdles to overcome (like the practicalities of living hand-to-mouth) then we just accept bad conditions in the workplace?"

It is very tough and you just want to pitch up, demand your terms and then demand yet more when it suits you forever from people who can do what you cannot - create work for you and pay your wages?

If someone is deserving of a "fuck off" around here, it ain't me, Sonny Jim.

p.s. NOT(left wing) is not the same a "right wing".

ENGLISHMAN said...

And just what were the "unions"doing these past fifteen years,apart from putting thier own membership on the dole and applauding the innundation of foreign parasites to further thier disenfranchisement from the crumbs that were left,or the policy of "white men need not apply"that was imposed in all public services?This commie scum should be aquainted with mr 9mm up close and personal for thier treason against thier fellow countrymen.

Phil Dickens said...

"What is quite ridiculous is the notion that the person can stop working as a means to force me to amend the freely entered into conditions"

The idea of "freely entered into" implies that the working class can individually negotiate their contracts on the same level as professional footballers or investment bankers, which clearly isn't the case. It also ignores the fact that in the real world most of us can't afford to simply quit and leisurely peruse all the other options available to us as one might haggle for trinkets in a market place.

The real world don't work that way.

And, again - the reason we have half-decent working conditions in any industry is because people agitated to force their employers and the government's hand.

"Sounds like you're talking about socialist governments and union bosses, Phil."

Maybe them as well. I'm an anarcho-syndicalist, so I've no time for state-socialism or the union bureaucrats who sell out their members' struggles and compromise regularly in order to keep a seat at the top table.

However, in the original context, I was noting the similar position of the proprietor over his property and the absolute monarch over his state.

"people who can do what you cannot - create work for you and pay your wages"

Ha ha ha. Fuck's sake. I'm supposed to be impressed that they pulled off the great money trick and claimed the wealth that others created.

These people are parasites, and exist only because they have been defended for centuries by the force of the state. Really existing capitalism cannot exist without that monopoly of violence at its back.

Roger Thornhill said...

" I'm supposed to be impressed that they pulled off the great money trick and claimed the wealth that others created."


Yes, you should be, because most of the time it is not a "money trick" but hard graft and a daily roll of the dice, often for stick or quits. Most employment is in SMEs and most of those are founded by individuals or groups who took a chance, bet the farm and risked ruin, heartache, divorce.

Would not be surprised if you have never worked in an SME.

Capitalism is not the thing defended by the State, it is Corporatism and I loathe it with a passion. I am not sure if you would know the difference.

p.s. you are Dave Spart and I claim my £5.

DocBud said...

"I'm supposed to be impressed that they pulled off the great money trick and claimed the wealth that others created."

If it wasn't for the intervention of those of us who give up our jobs and invest time, effort and money in new companies, the "others" would never create the wealth as they want someone to employ them. That's fine, they are looking to sell their skills, I'm looking to buy at a rate that means I can turn a profit and make my time and effort worthwhile. The profit (wealth) has nothing to do with employees other than to the extent that a bonus scheme might be attached to it, they sold their skills, I bought, end of story.

If people want profit, they need to set up their own company.

Roue le Jour said...

It is certainly time to kill the public sector unions, and it is easily within the government's power to do it.

Phil Dickens said...

"If it wasn't for the intervention of those of us who give up our jobs and invest time, effort and money in new companies, the "others" would never create the wealth as they want someone to employ them."

Well, that's down to this perilous thing called "private property," which originated with state violence and the theft of the commons for the gain of unproductive individuals whose only input is to "own" the capital required for production.

We only "want" [need] someone to employ us because the system's built that way. When - such as the short lived Spanish revolution - that's done away with and people can claim the full benefit of what they occupy and use, rather than getting a wage from the parasite stealing it, you find that universal workers' self-management is feasible. More than that, that it actually drives up productivity - you're more invested in that you have a stake and a say in.

DocBud said...

We only "want" [need] someone to employ us because the system's built that way.

The likes of you need someone to employ you because you are basically a useless, feckless tosser who thinks you are a victim and the world owes you a living. Whatever the system, you'd always rely on others to provide the food on your table.

Employees can't "claim the full benefit of what they occupy and use" because they are not prepared to take risk, they want others to take the risks for them, and as such we are entilted to benefit from taking that risk. If they were prepared to set up on their own, they could claim the full benefit.

It is a simple choice, take risks or sell your skills to someone else who takes risks.If you choose the latter, don't bleat about having a portion of your endeavour creamed off to compensate the risk taker.

Phil Dickens said...

Kevin Carson makes this point better than I can, after noting that what you're making is "a really stupid argument, if you can even dignify it by using that word."

In every society in human history, the class that controls access to the means of production and subsistence, and hence controls access to productive work, is the class that provides whatever “jobs” exist.

Suppose some follower of Milton Friedman in the old Soviet Union thirty years ago had criticized their system of state-owned industry and central planning, and waged “class warfare” against the state managerial bureaucrats and planners. An apologist for that system could have said — with just as much truth as his American counterpart defending big business — “it’s state industry that provides all the jobs.” A Russian counterpart of Newt Gingrich or Dick Armey could have ridiculed the “class warfare” of people who “want jobs but criticize the state industrial managers who provide them.”

A member of the landed nobility in France seven hundred years ago could have said, with as much justice as his American counterpart, “It’s the great landlords who provide the peasants with land to work to feed themselves.”

All of these “arguments” accept existing distributions of property and power as a matter of course, with no regard to whether or not they came about in a just manner.


You can read the full thing here. It explains why "Capitalists occupy a position under capitalism analogous to that occupied by the great landlords under the Old Regime" and we have every right to "bleat about having a portion of your endeavour creamed off" by a class of parasites.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Phil,

I shall try to find some time to write about this over the next couple of days (far from guaranteed, I'm afraid: still under the cosh work-wise), but you are making a fatal—and terrifically important—mistake...

You are equating wealth with "jobs", as is the writer you cite.

"Suppose some follower of Milton Friedman in the old Soviet Union thirty years ago had criticized their system of state-owned industry and central planning, and waged “class warfare” against the state managerial bureaucrats and planners. An apologist for that system could have said — with just as much truth as his American counterpart defending big business — “it’s state industry that provides all the jobs.”"

Jobs are not wealth—jobs are a cost. Jobs are a burden on wealth creation. Jobs are also (some would argue) a burden on humans—many people would like to have a living without having to work.

I repeat—jobs do not equate to wealth.

Anyway, more over the next couple of days, hopefully.

DK

DocBud said...

I don't kid myself, Phil, that I provide employment out of the goodness of my heart (being an evil capitalist I don't have one and any charitable giving is done purely to give the best return). If I could earn what I earn without employing people I would because governments make employing people a pain in the backside. However, a happy consequence of my grasping avariciousness is that I provide people with employment which they seem reasonably happy with because they keep pitching up each week. The thing most commonly moaned about is the amount of tax the government takes off them.

The system is what the system is and won't be changed by a miniscule number of people chanting commie mantras. I don't lose sleep because of feelings of parasitic guilt and neither do I lose sleep worrying that all my ill-gotten gains will be taken away from me through an uprising of the downtrodden, exploited workers.

Phil Dickens said...

DK,

I've been busy myself over the last few days, hence the belated comment, so I certainly understand.

One quick point:

"Jobs are not wealth—jobs are a cost."

Only if you presume that those who own capital and create jobs also create wealth. On the basis of the opposite presumption - that workers create wealth and property rights are theft enforced by state violence - then jobs aren't a cost to employers but a shackle for the workers who create wealth.

It's the key difference between the libertarian left (mutualists as well as anarcho-syndicalists) and right. It may be an irreconcilable one, but it's important to understand.

Phil Dickens said...

Doc,

"...I provide people with employment which they seem reasonably happy with because they keep pitching up each week."

Actually, to spout another commie mantra, that's just the proletarian condition. The vast majority of us have to work for someone such as yourself to survive.

The state offers to many barriers to maintain those who are propertied and control those who are not. After 150 years, many people stop noticing the chains.