Charles Maggs supports the Labour leaders cautious approach to the Unions
Since being ushered in to his new role as Labour leader by the unions and not Labour members, a lot of focus has been placed on Ed Miliband’s relationship with the unions as many in his party, mostly from the blairite wing, feared a return to the ideological battles of the 1980’s. He did however make one wise move this week: condemning any planned strikes by tube workers targeted at the royal wedding.
The marriage of Prince William and the soon to be Princess Katherine, will be a day of countrywide celebration. There will always be a grumble from some unpatriotic, leftist republicans but on the whole it promises to be a national holiday enjoyed by all, not just the staunchest of royalists.
To coincide a strike with the big day would be very naive. Miliband says quite rightly that it would alienate the public. On a day that will bring people from all social backgrounds together in national celebration, it will be forever tinged with resentment towards those who may attempt to sabotage it and the unions would be shooting themselves in the foot if they were to do so.
It’s no surprise that ASLEF (the union which represents tube drivers) have been floating the idea of using the day for industrial action. It seems every other day is an excuse for action! It wouldn’t be so bad if the terms it was demanding for it’s member’s were anything close to reasonable. Treble pay and an extra day in lieu for those members who work during a bank holiday, however? It would make even Arthur Skargill’s eyes water.
Mr Miliband says that the only way to bring down a government is through the ballot box and not through industrial action. Sadly however, the public sector unions who backed him don’t agree. One quick look on the RMT’s website makes this clear for all to see, and even more so by UNITE who offer their own ‘alternative economic program’. Forgive me if I’m being old fashioned, but I thought it was the role of elected government to decide the nations economic policy, even if union leaders earnings are on a par with that of the Prime Minister.