On Strike.

What do we want? Better working conditions and a pay rise in line with inflation to offset the spike in living costs due to higher energy prices as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s Russia in an attempt to wrestle back some of the lands he believes were wrongly granted independence after the collapse of the USSR. When do we want it? NOW! Why do we want it? Because we’ve got a chip on our union shoulders and although we consistently perform poorly we believe that we should earn more money for standing on a train platform and basically reading out loud from a timetable when anyone asks us a question and occasionally explaining that the lifts aren’t working and/or the disabled toilets are still out of action, and what’s more we believe that when we perform these tasks, most of which a reasonably bright 7 year old could easily master, we should have the right to do them in better conditions, like being provided with thicker socks and a louder and shinier whistle to blow when, y’know, there’s a train leaving or something like that. We are consummate strikers, we literally threaten to strike all the time. In fact if we didn’t strike on a regular basis we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. And not knowing what to do with ourselves nicely sums up our job in the first place, oddly enough.

What do we want? Better working conditions and a pay rise above the soaring rate of inflation to offset interest rate rises and help cope with the rocketing cost of living as a result of increased food prices, because it turns out we rely on Ukraine for 99% of all our consumable supplies and since they have been selfishly pinned down in a bitter war with Vladimir Putin’s Russia since February the shelves are nearly empty and the last few bits that are on the bits of the shelves which aren’t empty have quadrupled in price, including postal worker essentials like a 3 litre bottle of industrial strength cider. When do we want it? NOW! Why do we want it? Because the rail workers decided to strike first, so really it’s their fault and we just thought our job was even harder because of the weather and a few other bits and until members of our profession are free to leave valuable parcels out in the pissing rain and drop shitty bills and junk mail on doormats across the land without any criticism we figure we should have a few days off to really properly ruin a Christmas that was already looking pretty bleak for most of Britain. Apparently a first class stamp is nearly a quid now so someone in the top office is having a fucking laugh, and we want in.

What do we want? Better working conditions and a pay rise above inflation to reflect an unprecedented rise in food and fuel prices as a result of relying on Russia for almost all of our fuel supplies and also some stuff about Liz Truss’ mini budget and the staggering rise in mortgage payments off the back of that, and at this rate we’ll have to cancel Christmas in our house and that’s why we’re standing in a picket line in the freezing cold, which is still better than our current job, and now we can’t remember why we started doing this for a living in the first place. When do we want it? NOW! Why do we want it? Because we spend all day driving around in an ambulance for an organisation that hasn’t been properly run since about 1961 and it doesn’t make sense to us that some people can have, like, ten cars and yet we don’t even have enough ambulances to go around, oh and to make things a bit harder to swallow we’re sick of getting home at night knowing that there are patients out there that we haven’t been able to help and so by taking a few days off to complain and ask for a pay rise that is highly unlikely to come we think it might make things better in the long run, but obviously not for anyone who dies because we’re on strike, but hey hoy etc. We also don’t particularly like having bricks thrown at us by teenagers or waiting in a long queue because people aren’t dying quickly enough or being discharged to die somewhere else, usually via an ambulance ride. Oh, and you may well chuck in some extra stuff about Covid and how clapping won’t pay our wages, not that it ever did. One thing we definitely know for sure is that we work a fuck sight harder than rail and mail employees, but then who doesn’t?

What to we want? Everything we don’t have. We want to be treated with a bit of respect in the workplace and not have to put up with being thrown up on by violent drunks on a Tuesday night. Not only that we want to have better conditions and access to resources so that old people who have been kept alive well beyond their years, because no-one will admit they don’t really know what dying with dignity actually means, aren’t lying in a shopping trolley in the corridor for three days before some smug, over paid consultant with a God complex comes along and says they’ll pop back in three more days to re-assess, once they’ve had the Porsche valeted. And we want a better pay deal that means more people sign up to nursing, although why anybody would want to be a nurse anymore is beyond us because what’s the fucking point, so we may as well just take the piss and ask for a 19% pay rise which would cover us even if inflation rates rose to the heights Germany saw after World War I. When do we want it? NOW! Why do we want it? Because, well, we work hard in our job, just like ambulance drivers, and we hardly ever strike because people’s lives actually rely on us going to work so maybe a little extra should come our way, and certainly before some twat in a cap and high-vis jacket whose main job is to tell people that there used to be a Costa on Platform 4 but Platform 4 doesn’t operate anymore due to reduced services and severe cuts in pay and conditions. Mind you, the government has warned people not to get ill or injured over the Christmas period so if they follow that advice maybe we’ll be spare parts anyway. Just imagine if no-one got ill too. Problem solved.

What does someone have to do to go on strike these days? I would go on strike if I could think of anything to strike about. Besides, how can anyone have time to think when they’re busy not having their mail delivered or busy not catching a train or busy not being taken to hospital in an ambulance to lie there all busy not getting treatment? Before you know it everyone will be on strike. Except for me, because I’m not the kind to go on strike. Certainly, I know that if I striked, or struck or strik, I would weigh it up very carefully because as we can see from this winter of discontent it may be quite easy to have a few days off work but you had better make sure the general public can swallow every bit of disruption you put them through, especially if you say the reason you are withdrawing your services to patients is because you’re concerned that patients aren’t getting the service they need; that almost doesn’t add up to me. All jobs have pay and all jobs have conditions but then almost all jobs are better than having no job at all, aren’t they? Perhaps I’m just not socialist enough to understand.

One thing I do know is that these strikes have pretty much everything you can imagine to blame for: the war in Ukraine, climate change, overpopulation, energy prices, inflation and interest rates, union leaders, union members, bankers, people with second homes in Cornwall, the death of the Queen, Matt Lucas leaving Bake Off, Covid 19, Matt Hancock doing I’m A Celebrity, Prince Andrew being an arsehole, King Charles’ leaky pen, the women’s football team winning the Euros, Liz Truss and Kwazi Kwarteng giving us a crash course in what atrocious leadership really looks like, the death of Barry Cryer, Harry Wessex being a complete arsehole that married a complete arsehole without realising that two negatives don’t always make a positive, Elon Musk being a consummate arsehole, James Corden doing a Jamie Oliver and not knowing when to give up, Jamie Oliver doing anything, Will Smith being a slap-happy twat, the increasingly less faint possibility that before long we won’t be able to say anything derogatory about anyone, even if it’s true and that we’ll be forced to renounce our own sexuality and live in a ludicrous non-binary society where you can be tasered just for thinking about genitalia. Oh, and bloody fucking Brexit, which, as each day goes past seems like one of the greatest moments of stupidity in British history. When you take into account all that mess you can start to wonder if we all couldn’t do with some better conditions. And some real union. People sticking together, that kind of thing. But then this isn’t the Blitz, it’s 2022, and people just don’t give a fuck about anyone else anymore. That’s just human nature. So strike away.

G B Herald Angel. 21.12.2022

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