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Debates Forum

  1. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 11:50 / 1 edit
    Here is another back-of-a-fag-packet hypothetical topic that need only be taken seriously as any willing poster thinks it deserves.

    Let's say some workers go on strike for higher wages and one of the arguments in the dispute is that they shouldn't go on strike because of how much money is lost by everybody as a result of their industrial action. Isn't that just conceding that they should, indeed, be paid much more than they are?

    For example, I remember years ago, underground train drivers in London struck for more pay. Economic activity in the capital city was severely affected. Critics of the strike pointed out that the action by the drivers was costing businesses in London billions of pounds every day because of loss of productivity. But, if the role played by the trains drivers in the productivity of the city was so vital, and if so much money was at stake, aren't these simply compelling arguments for paying the train drivers more?
  2. 01 Nov '09 12:30 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    Here is another back-of-a-fag-packet hypothetical topic that need only be taken seriously as any willing poster thinks it deserves.

    Let's say some workers go on strike for higher wages and one of the arguments in the dispute is that they shouldn't go on strike because of how much money is lost by everybody as a result of their industrial action. Isn't that ju ...[text shortened]... ey was at stake, aren't these simply compelling arguments for paying the train drivers more?
    yes, i would say so. Consider also those persons who collect refuge. It is considered a very menial and often degrading post, however, without it, there would be chaos and rats the size of cats. Those guys are not nearly paid enough, for their role is one of utter necessity yet viewed in very menial terms.
  3. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    01 Nov '09 12:46
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    yes, i would say so. Consider also those persons who collect refuge. It is considered a very menial and often degrading post, however, without it, there would be chaos and rats the size of cats. Those guys are not nearly paid enough, for their role is one of utter necessity yet viewed in very menial terms.
    Do you live in Edinburgh, then?
  4. 01 Nov '09 13:04
    The problem is, who determines a worker's worth?
  5. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    01 Nov '09 13:07
    Actually, the refuse collection in Edinburgh is a good example. They've been taking industrial action over proposed changes to pay and conditions: in essence, the council is looking to reorganise shift patterns and eliminate overtime, but it appears the result will be a loss of income to the refuse collectors (one estimate put it at as much as 15 per cent) and a severe disruption to working arrangements (knock-on costs around issues of travel, childcare, etc.). Rather than strike, the bin men worked to rule: they didn't do the overtime the council has depended on for years and routes were half-done - when they reached the end of a shift, they turned the truck round and went back to the depot. Much of this happened during the Edinburgh Festival - I think still the largest arts festival in the world, and in any event a truly massive deal to the city.

    I happen to think cutting the pay of some of the lowest paid - but indispensable - workers is wrong-headed (an example of somewhat morally blinkered accountancy, perhaps), but I think the cries that the bin men were costing Edinburgh dear (with news reports of rubbish piling up, and visiting tourists seeing, and smelling, it for themselves) rang hollow for just the reason given: if their work is so essential, why is their pay so low? And why are you trying to cut it further?

    On the other hand, they work for the council, so it's my taxes that go towards their pay: don't I want 'efficiency' with my money? (Well yes, to an extent: as I said, though, I'm with the refuse collectors on this one.) And, second, the bin men (and, to a lesser extent public transport workers) hold a virtual monopoly on the service they supply: is there a danger that some vested interest groups always resist change, and talk it up, with a 'nuclear option' that says more about our dependency on a particular service than the value of any given individual or group of individuals that provide it? (Refuse collectors might provide an essential service - but probably new people could be easily, cheaply and quickly trained to do about as good a job: does being in situ in an essential - but unskilled - service provide one with greater leverage simply through incumbency?)
  6. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 13:25
    Originally posted by Zort Boy
    The problem is, who determines a worker's worth?
    Perhaps the workers themselves do, by striking - and in doing so demonstrating how vital they are to everybody else's prosperity.
  7. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    01 Nov '09 13:29
    Originally posted by FMF
    Here is another back-of-a-fag-packet hypothetical topic that need only be taken seriously as any willing poster thinks it deserves.

    Let's say some workers go on strike for higher wages and one of the arguments in the dispute is that they shouldn't go on strike because of how much money is lost by everybody as a result of their industrial action. Isn't that ju ...[text shortened]... ey was at stake, aren't these simply compelling arguments for paying the train drivers more?
    A agree with Zort Boy. They're "worth" what they can get on the open market. If they can get more by striking, then there's no moral imperative for them not to, even if that's going to hurt commuters. They're just looking out for themselves. Nothing wrong with that.

    On the other hand, the striking workers shouldn't then complain if they're later fired and replaced by people who are willing to work for less than they are. The government shouldn't protect them (except that I agree with the rule that employers shouldn't be allowed to punish employees for being union leaders).

    Labor negotiations are a double edged sword and as long as the workers realize this, there's nothing wrong with them exercising their leverage.
  8. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 13:33
    Originally posted by sh76
    On the other hand, the striking workers shouldn't then complain if they're later fired and replaced by people who are willing to work for less than they are. The government shouldn't protect them (except that I agree with the rule that employers shouldn't be allowed to punish employees for being union leaders).
    So are you, broadly speaking, inclined towards seeing the role of government as protecting employers from their employees, or protecting employees from their employers?
  9. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 13:39
    Originally posted by sh76
    They're "worth" what they can get on the open market.
    Isn't this then perhaps a clear example of the "open market" mechanism getting it wrong? If the train drivers 'enable the productivity of the city' and are so vital, and if so much money is riding on them doing their job, shouldn't the train drivers be getting paid more? How can the the "market" mechanism - i.e. paying them as little as mathematically possible - be the right way to decide it. Especially when it results in such awful industrial relations and subsequent intermittent disruption to commerce.
  10. Subscriber Rajk999
    Enjoying
    01 Nov '09 14:15 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    A agree with Zort Boy. They're "worth" what they can get on the open market. If they can get more by striking, then there's no moral imperative for them not to, even if that's going to hurt commuters. They're just looking out for themselves. Nothing wrong with that.

    On the other hand, the striking workers shouldn't then complain if they're later fired and re the workers realize this, there's nothing wrong with them exercising their leverage.
    Labour unions cannot be relied upon to act fairly.
    Individuals cannot be relied upon either.
    Govts may not have the ability to determine a fair wage.

    Probably a good example of all three being at fault was Reagan v the airtraffic controllers in 1981.

    What should determine a proper wage ?
    - level of training and skill required
    - # of hours worked
    - level of personal risk and sacrifice
    - demand for the skill.

    It should never be determined by ".. how much negotiating power I have.. that can be used as leverage to force my wages up". Maybe the solution lies is new and creative thinking more along the lines of socialism than free market forces.
  11. 01 Nov '09 14:17 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by FMF
    Isn't this then perhaps a clear example of the "open market" mechanism getting it wrong? If the train drivers 'enable the productivity of the city' and are so vital, and if so much money is riding on them doing their job, shouldn't the train drivers be getting paid more? How can the the "market" mechanism - i.e. paying them as little as mathematically possible - ...[text shortened]... s in such awful industrial relations and subsequent intermittent disruption to commerce.
    Well? What happened? Did they get their pay increase? Did the market correct itself?

    The "worth" of someone is directly proportional of the value that someone places on another that has money. For example, those that take care of the wealthy directly and in an intimate way, lawyers, entertainers etc, are the ones that make the jack. Of course, there are those who take care of them that do not have such an immediate impact on them such as engineers and train operators etc. My guess is that the drivers are viewed as mindless workers without any real skills, hence, they are easily replacable. Of course, I could be wrong, but my guess that is the view. It is simply supply and demand and the potential supply of drivers is endless.
  12. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 14:22
    Originally posted by Rajk999
    [a proper wage]... should never be determined by ".. how much negotiating power I have.. that can be used as leverage to force my wages up".
    What's interesting is that, according to you, one corporate entity - a union - should never be allowed to use negotiation power and leverage to further the interests of the 'members' of that coporation, and yet another corporate entity - a train company - should always be allowed to use negotiation power and leverage to further its interests.
  13. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 14:27
    Originally posted by whodey
    My guess is that the drivers are viewed as mindless workers without any real skills, hence, they are easily replacable.
    So how can it be that seemingly the entire commercial health of a major world capital depends on such "mindless workers without any real skills"? How does the 'market' respond to this unusual situation? Does it require the government to outlaw collective bargaining and other workers' rights in order to maximize the profits and minimize earnings?
  14. 01 Nov '09 14:34 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    So how can it be that seemingly the entire commercial health of a major world capital depends on such "mindless workers without any real skills"? How does the 'market' respond to this unusual situation? Does it require the government to outlaw collective bargaining and other workers' rights in order to maximize the profits and minimize earnings?
    What I mean is, those who have an immediate impact on the wealth and welfare of the wealthy are the ones that make the money. For example, without the aid of lawyers, the wealthy would have a hard time keeping and protecting their wealth, hence, without them they would no longer be wealthy. THey then are paid accordingly. However, the bus driver down the street is not in the same position. They do not rely on him in large part. Of course, if they all go on strike they may ruffle some feathers and cause a depletion of their profits, but in large part this is fixable. They will either bring their wealthy elitist counterparts that do their dirty work for them, that is, those who are in government, to lower the boom and force them back to work, or they will have the whole lot of the fired and find workers who are just pleased to have a job. Now if either of these scenerios are not plausable, then I would say they have a situation, but my guess is that one or the other will occur unless they think that the wage increases are acceptable and simply give it to them. Even if they do cave, my guess is that they will make it as slow and painful for them as humanly possible so as to not encourage such behavior in the future.


    Edit: Perhaps having higher rates of unemployment is beneficial in terms of finding those who are willing to work for less? Perhaps the rising unemployment levels across the globe are then not really undesirable for the wealthy elite? In fact, perhaps it is by design. So get to work FMF or you too might get replaced by another willing slave.
  15. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    01 Nov '09 14:41
    Originally posted by whodey
    It is simply supply and demand and the potential supply of drivers is endless.
    Is the supply of drivers with 10-20 years' experience endless?