Secondary Action

picture from the BBC Website

picture frome the BBC Website

Workers at British power stations are on unofficial strikes. I don’t get this.

The problem seems to have three key arguments to it.
1- Foreign workers coming to the UK to do jobs while UK workers are unemployed.
2 – Why can British companies not win the contract for the same price if the costs are the same?
3 – should a foreign company which bids for work in the UK be forced to use a percentage of local workforce?

There are arguments for and against each of these key points. But the thing about this dispute which have piqued my interest, is the isue of secondary action. The links of how a problem at one area engendered support and sypathy in a different georaphic area. Why did workers in Grangemouth, Mossmorran, Longannet and other power stations all stop work and have unnofficial walk outs to support the workers who were on an unofficial strike?

I get this concern for your own lively hood, the idea of show the management what will happen if they try that here. But what I don’t get is why now. The timing is key to this event. The global recession (or as Gordon Brown raised this week the specter of depression), has given a huge boost to feelings of nationalistic protectionism. On a lighter note it is early February and no one wants to be at work in February.

But do the engineers in Grangemouth really think an Italian engineer is a threat? Do the workers at Mossmorran really want an Italian family to experience unemployment? do workers at Longannet think that someone in Italy who has a job is worth less than someone unemployed in the UK.

If a Scottish firm had got the contract and had shipped workers from Inverness to the affected plant would their have been the same reaction/protest across the country. My understanding is that the work was first contracted to an American Firm, who sub contracted to the Italian company, If the Americans had come in would their have been the same outcry?

I doubt it. So what is it;
Protectionism or Racism?

I wonder about how I would feel if I was unemployed, went for a job, didn’t get it, and was told an American had got the job but was hiring an Italian to do the job instead of me. I hope I would able to allow someone to do the job and do it well. I hope I would be welcoming in that situation. I hope I would remember that the job was never mine to begin with. I hope I would I show love and grace through my own disappointment.

Sadly what has been shown is Anger, Suspicion, Hate.

Injustice this isn’t, (a facet of the failed financial system which caused this recession yes.) but morally wrong or objectionable. no.