Wednesday 30 November 2011

Strike strike strike strike strike strike strike


I’m not going to go in to a detailed account of the day. I need to catch up on these blogs and I feel like I am falling behind. So, I did a strike. See me doing it below with Union kingpin ‘Frank Sobotka’ (Paul insists on being called Frank Sobotka – he can get very violent if you refer to him as anything else).

Copyright Duffy Images

I’d be lying if I said I was there because I was worried specifically about the pension of my colleagues. I have already addressed that I don’t have a pension myself. I voted for strike action and did a strike because of the wider issue of public sector pensions and the way they are being torn away from professions such as teachers and nurses. I was happy to be part of the picket line to show this support and make it known what it was all about. I certainly wasn’t about to make anyone feel guilty for not striking: it’s not my bag to guilt someone about their life choice. There was no-one trying that guilt trip, I’d like to make that clear.

Turns out you don’t need to guilt people or even say they are doing anything wrong. There were enough people keen to say that they with us in spirit (doesn’t really work) or that they couldn’t strike (they could). I wouldn’t have give two shits about them not striking if that’s what they wanted, just leave the platitudes of good intentions in your heads (I thought – or maybe said quietly to a comrade). I was slightly surprised that there were a few scabs (people in the union working from choice, not hardened skin where damaged skins cells were repairing underneath). It seemed the people involved weren’t claiming financial necessity but felt – in one specific case – that their pension would not be saved and thus the action was not something they wanted to be a part of. That stuff I said about not judging others goes a bit out of the window here; why be a member of union that votes for action if you are not prepared to abide by that action and show solidarity? Unions aren’t abstractly named – their name says it all.

There was one individual who made an impassioned monologue about how they agreed with everything we were striking for; that they wished they with us; that their union was not striking; that they had never considered striking (this was definitely someone who was of an age that to have never considered striking before must have been particularly impassioned by this – they were definitely a working adult in the 1970s and 80s, when I believe some bad stuff happened). With some emotion in their voice they said it was outrageous what was being done to pensions (correct) and there was some applause from the gathered picket line. This person then said it was outrageous that we never got bonuses and then went inside to work. You can make your own mind up – I didn’t applaud this person nor think they had much of a point. Perhaps if they had turned up a bit earlier (suspiciously they had turned up quite late work when you might have expected the picket line to have disbanded) and showed the passionate solidarity by standing with us for a bit I might have believed a bit before. That if they felt so strongly about it they could have joined a union who were taking action was a point that I wasn’t the only one to think. So, yeah, I didn’t care what others chose to do or get affronted by it. I am a modern day Gandhi.

Picket Jacket

Feel free to judge me on not going to the marches, though. I can’t handle that many people in a place when I want to respect the same thing as them – they would just annoy me. Plus it involved lots of whistle blowing, literally – not the highlighting of dishonest behaviour…well actually I suppose it kind of was that as well. It was the constant shrill of actual whistles that put me off though. And people.

Talk about Oscar Wilde

I saw a thing about how they had cleaned up Oscar Wilde’s grave later. Apparently people kiss the Parisian tomb of the famed wit when they visit it. The accumulative grease and chemicals from lipstick and such was eroding away the structure (showing that even affection can destroy stone given enough time). They had cleaned it up and had put a protective screen around it to stop people doing it in the future.

The ceremony was attended by Wilde’s grandson, adding genetic gravity to the re-opening. I couldn’t help but note the irony. Had Wilde’s homosexuality not been illegal and considered vile, leading to his imprisonment, leading to his ignominious fleeing England and ending with a death in a Parisian hotel, and his sarcophagus being in Paris – he could have lived a gay life and would never had children and grand-children. So, his grandson’s presence was kind of a living memoriam to the charade he had been forced to inhabit.

I also thought it must be a fucking nightmare to be Oscar Wilde’s grandson – people must be constantly disappointed by his attempts at wit when they meet him.

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