UK Firefighters Strike

Today, firefighters in Britain voted for a round of one day strikes. The reason? They want more money of course, 40% more money to be precise, no that's not a typing error, they want a 40% pay increase. You see for the past 20 odd years firefighters pay has been linked to the national pay of manual workers, and not just the average pay of manual workers, but something like the top 20%. However, since that agreement was signed with the British Government back in the 1970's manual workers pay has not increased as much as the pay of everyone else in the country as industry has declined to be replaced by the service sector. So, the firefighters main argument is that this agreement should have been shelved years ago to be replaced by an agreement which basically gave them more money. As it wasn't, they believe they have been underpaid for the past 20 years, and therefore a 40% pay increase now is more then fair.

Now for the part I enjoy most, my 2 cents. I'm not a political person at all, but do pride myself on common sense:

  • Give us more money we've been underpaid for 20 years! What I don't understand is what has their Trade Union been doing for the past 20 years? If as they believe, firefighters pay is so very very low, surely they would have spoken up before now. What I think to be the case is this. Currently, many public workers including Nurses, Tube Train drivers and teachers are kicking up a fuss about pay. Many have been successful in acheiving modest pay increases, especially as Tony Blair and New Labour launch drives to recruit more public sector workers with the offer of increased pay. Hence, I believe the firefighters union is simply jumping on the band wagon, working themselves up into a frenzy and almost convincing themselves that they have a valid argument. The Trade Union itself also has to justify it's existence and worth to it's members every now and again.
  • We don't need to go to arbitration it's an open and shut case! To me this simply shows that if it was taken to arbitration, they know they wouldn't have a snowballs chance in hell of getting anything like what they're demanding, because it's a stupid STUPID demand.
  • Strikes are the Governments fault. Well of course they are, I mean the Government should have come to you years ago and offered you more money, simply for being nice guys. You know something, I stopped shifting the blame for my decisions when I was about 10 years old. It's not the Governments fault you're striking, it yours and you know it, you voted for it, 87% in favour. If people die as a consequence of your greed then you are responsible, no one else.
  • But firefighters put their lives at risk! Oh how I love this old chestnut. For a start, you are not forced to be a Firefighter, don't join up if you think the risks outweigh the benefits. I can't even remember the last time a firefighter died in the line of duty, but lets face it, it is quite risky putting out those flaming cars that joyriders leave behind, and for example a soldier's life is 100 times more at risk then a firefighters and their pay is half of what they get, and when's the last time you heard the army threatening to go on strike? Exactly.
  • But we can't afford to buy a house. Join the gang, neither can anyone else, and you know something, simply paying people more money will not solve the UK housing crisis. You pay people more money to buy houses and you know what happens, yes you guessed it, house prices go up, then what? Whoever heard of house prices stabalising or going down by increasing demand, oh no no no my friend, you need to increase supply, build more houses, that is the solution. Hey, you must feel pretty stupid having a 22 year old who only did A-Level Economics pointing that out to you ah?
  • £20,000+ starting wage (that's around $30,000) is not a good enough wage. Ahem, yes it is, trust me, that is a very good wage, even for London. Especially as you only work 2 days a week. Oh it's a 48 hour shift is it, but don't you usually sleep for half of that? Hello? Anyone there?

Don't know whether this came across in my WU, but I'm against the strike.