The devil’s advocate: The problem with strikes
|March 28, 2012||Posted by James Harle under national|
The recession has failed to cause any noticeable change in my life. Perhaps it’s just me, but for all the news coverage I personally have noticed no especial change in prices, spending, or the availability of jobs. When I’ve needed jobs I’ve found them, and the people I know have done likewise. As far as I’m concerned, the recession is a myth, but a myth that makes a good excuse for two things: remaining unemployed, and striking for higher wages.
For those who are unemployed, I don’t think it is a lack of jobs that is causing the problem, but rather a lack of palatable jobs. Jobs in factories and manual labour abound; even in the news there are a multitude of stories supporting this, the most recent being a daffodil farmer whose crop went to waste because nobody wanted to do the job of picking them. It’s about entitlement: people think they are entitled to do a job they like.
We’ve also seen a large number of strikes recently – again, an issue of entitlement. Strikes occur, as far as I can see, when a group of workers believe they are entitled to more money than is forthcoming from their employers. This entitlement is not based on their relative worth to their employer, because if it was then they could obtain the sought-after wage increase by simply threatening to quit. They feel, rather, that just because they want more money they are entitled to it.
When you don’t like your job, you should have the courage to quit it and find a new one. If people realised that, and put it into practice, then rates of pay would be kept competitive and there would be no need for the process of unionization. Striking as a practice is based on the fantasy that you are entitled to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. You’re not entitled to that; it’s not a human right. You should definitely try to obtain it, because it’s a good thing to have, but to claim entitlement to it is to say that it is someone else’s duty to supply you with it – but when it comes to employment, the duty of finding and maintaining an equitable job is entirely yours.
If you can’t find work which is equitable to you, then get more training and try harder. If you already have work, and feel your rate of pay is inequitable, then inform your employer that if the situation is not rectified then you will quit. You do have the right to quit your job if you don’t like it for any reason. That’s what you have a right to do. Everything else is just what you want to be entitled to.
Your employer can only make do without you if A, your job is non-essential, or B, he can find someone of equal or greater competency who will work for an equal or lower wage. If you are the best at what you do, then there will be a great demand for your relative talent, which is in short supply. That equals a high wage. If your relative talent is low, however, then the demand for it will also be low, and you will not earn as much. That’s a simple application of the great economic principle: supply and demand. There are (at least) two solutions, therefore, to the problem of being dissatisfied with your wages: you can either correct the balance of supply and demand by getting better at doing your job, or you can unionize in order to more effectively force employers to raise your wages. One method concurs with basic economics, and improves you as a worker and as a person; the other does not.
Perhaps you have been caused unfair tribulation by the recession, perhaps you have been directly affected by the overall downward trend of our economic climate. Striking, however, is not the answer, and nor is perpetual unemployment. Perhaps it’s time to stop dwelling on your demands as an employee, and focus on better meeting the demands of your job.