Friday, June 25, 2010

Of Trade Unions and the Hairiness of Bongo Players

Last night the CSIF were demonstrating under my window. Not that I've done anything to them, but I happen to live opposite the Civil Governor, who gets a lot of this sort of thing (and so do I, of course, but he buggers off and leaves the rest of us to put up with the loudspeakers and whistles). They also marched around the block a bit, to justify the effort of turning up.

This is the civil service union, and they're a bit miffed that Zapatero has cut 5% off their salaries to try to make ends meet. He won't succeed, he'll just make more enemies, but that's politics.

They're a fairly civilized by the normal standards of trade unions. They didn't scream abuse at anyone, intimidate passers-by, smash anything, or look like they wanted to, and they had brought along a group of bongo players who hadn't been told about shampoo to provide some atmosphere, which the more militant unions never think of doing. Despite all this, I rather doubt they had the sympathy of the public, and for good reasons.

There are about 4m civil servants, quite a lot of them unnecessary and many of them lazy and inefficient, since they are not held to anything like the same standards as those of us in the productive economy, and they can't be sacked. They have lifetime contracts and guaranteed pensions, which it is almost impossible to lose. Certainly, incompetence, inefficiency, laziness or there not being anything forf them to do are not considered reasons for dismissal, so while it's not pleasant to earn 5% less each month, that is the absolute worst that can happen to them. There are 4.5m unemployed, who have no salary at all, and millions more have suffered a drop in income rather greater than 5% or, like me, have had to work much harder just to keep up the income level, and always with the possibility of unemployment in the near future (I make my own work, but it's taken a lot more time and effort this year to generate the same amount of work as before).

In other words, the majority of normal working people in this country would love to have the problems that the civil servants are moaning about, and so they were received with less than perfect sympathy. The unions in general are always willing to throw others out of work as the price of their pretensions and demands, but they don't like it up 'em.

I wish I could offer you a photo of the bongo troupe, but the camera battery was exhausted. So it's an old railway line again.

Blogging will be even lighter than it's been recently for the next couple of weeks, as I'm knocking off work and heading for the north and then for the old homeland. On my return I shall be in the country for the summer, so when blogging is resumed it is likely to be both bucolic and whimsical, for which I shall offer no apologies now or then.

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