Tag: contracts

You may ask how on earth bins are related to the post. The simple answer is that these are two things that may not be collected. They say that one wedding brings on another, but it looks like that this also applies to strikes. The Winter of Discontent in 1978-9 saw widespread industrial action, where the country almost came to a stop. Is this really where we are now?

The postal strike has been widely publicised, but it’s not just your post that may not arrive. Bus drivers have been striking against First Bus in Greater Manchester and various other places following pay freezes. British Airways is to face the possibility of strike action over new contracts, working practices and pay freezes after talks broke down. The Spanish company Iberia had to cancel over 400 flights over two days due to protests, and in Leeds, rubbish hadn’t been collected for eight weeks.

So, what’s causing all of this discontent? Are we going to see more and more workers protesting over contracts, hours of work and notably pay?

One key thing about strikes is that they affect everyone, whether it’s walking past piles of bin bags; not receiving birthday cards; getting to work late; cancelling holidays or receiving fines for late payment, and even for not submitting your tax returns. These are all problems that people have been facing, not to mention the loss of income some businesses have seen, especially resulting from the postal strike. With the government looking to reduce public-sector debt by increasing taxes or spending cuts, including public-sector pay freezes and controls on banking bonuses, we could be in for another winter of discontent with further disruptions to come.

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Questions

  1. What is the purpose of a strike and how effective are they likely to be? What are the costs?
  2. One of the reasons for strike action is pay freezes. What happens in an individual labour market when pay is frozen? What happens to the demand and supply of labour? Illustrate your answer with a diagram.
  3. Some news articles have referred to ‘picket lines’ forming. What are they?
  4. What is the difference between collective bargaining and individual bargaining? Which is more effective?
  5. Illustrate on a diagram the effect of a trade union entering an industry. How does it affect equilibrium wages and equilibrium employment? Is there any difference if the trade union faces a monopsonist employer of labour?
  6. Do you think the strike action is right? Why or why not? What are the things you have considered?
  7. Discuss whether we are heading towarads another ‘winter of discontent?’ Can it be stopped?