Sunday, November 22, 2009

Preparations for Tuesday

As a unionized worker in the public sector I'll be striking on Tuesday. It is a sign of how low the level of industrial action has been in the last decade or so that it will be the first time I've picketed (as opposed to protest marches). That seems to have been the main upside of the policy of appeasement and buy off in social partnership. It also seems like the first time that many on both the union and management side have been involved in this sort of situation.

Considering that the date has been fixed for over a month now, my union still hasn't sent around a rota for picketing duty. Several emails have been sent around asking those who will not be available (medical, childcare seem to be the main acceptable excuses) or who have a preference for where to picket. They also sent around an incomplete list of locations since several entrances to the campus have been changed since the SIPTU strike in 1996.

On the other hand, management seem to be intent on stoking up the flames and being as divisive as possible. While I accept that my striking should result in my not being paid for the day, the powers that be have made it very difficult for those who don't want to protest. Sick leave, work from home and holidays have been suspended so there is no option but to cross the picket line. A few of my colleagues would really rather not have to cross the picket but cannot afford to loose a days pay. In our line of work it is very easy to work remotely and this would ease tensions substantially.

I'm also still unsure as to how this strike is going to play with the public in general. I still believe that the premise is indefensible given the state of the public finances and media outlets like the Independent and Newstalk are going to have a field day driving further wedges between the private and public sector. At least emergency response units in Cork, Clare and Galway have postponed their actions due to the flooding so we can't all be accused of being totally self-centred and selfish.

Finally there is the small question of how I'm going to get to the protest if there is no public transport and I can't cross the picket line to park my car on campus. Guess it'll be shanks mare into town unless I get an afternoon slot in which case I can park for free on street thanks to Dublin City Council and their efforts to get people into the city centre for Christmas shopping. Must also remember to bring the rain poncho and my boots as being wet and protesting would suck.

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