Archie Bland: Striking back the best and only way they know how

FreeView from the editors at i

Share
Related Topics

I've never been on strike, so my understanding of them is a little limited. That's what I nearly concluded, anyway, when I heard the things the Tories have been saying about border guards' plans to take industrial action tomorrow. Actually, though, they may be the ones who are deluded.

Home Office minister Lord Henley said the idea was "opportunist". Fellow Tory peer Baroness Fookes called it irresponsible and a "squalid little exercise". Transport secretary Justine Greening described would-be strikers as potential champions if there were an "Olympic sport of self-interest" whose actions "would disrupt journeys for thousands".

These are all valid criticisms – if, that is, one believes that the purpose of a strike is to get people out of work, causing as little disturbance to the ordinary flow of things as possible. The trouble is, that doesn't sound so much like a strike to me as a day off. Strikes, in contrast to bank holidays, are supposed to be disruptive. It's the entire point. If they didn't make life more difficult, they would have no impact whatsoever. I'm reminded, elliptically, of the line from the otherwise mediocre teen comedy Road Trip, when someone complains that a short-cut is too hazardous: "It's supposed to be a challenge," the driver says. "That's why they call it a short-cut. If it was easy it would just be the way."

The appeals to the national interest that the likes of Greening and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt have been making similarly seem to imply that unions exist for any purpose other than the protection of their members. Now, you can argue that this strike will be counter-productive, because so many people will find it so annoying and I'd probably agree. It is likewise perfectly clear that the government's entitled to take whatever steps it can to minimise the disruption. But to question the right to do it is another thing entirely.

Let's not forget, as we digest Jeremy Hunt's chillingly casual observation that some of his cabinet colleagues would like to sack the border guards for exercising their rights, that they aren't just doing it on some power-crazy whim: 5,200 of their number are probably going to lose their jobs by 2015.

You can hardly blame them if they are unconvinced by assertions that they should give up the chance to protest this simply so that the people coming into the country for the Games can have a marginally jollier visit. If Justine Greening and her cohorts seriously believe that one, they will surely challenge for the gold in the noble British tradition of wishful thinking.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones