Strikes and the Budget

March 24, 2010 8:45 AM

As I passed - and, I confess, paused to heckle - several PCS union strike pickets on my way through Westminster this morning, two things struck me.

The first was that the strike is clearly a flop. Most of the pickets I saw were down to a skeleton crew of one person per office, which is even less than the previous strike a couple of weeks ago.

The second was how massive a political mis-step this is for the public sector unions. No doubt their intention by holding the strike today was to piggy back on the Budget and force Alistair Darling to cross picket lines on his way to deliver the speech.

In practice, though, how does this look to ordinary taxpayers? On the day the Chancellor will be talking about the pain of recovery, outlining the latest figures on our vast national debt and probably demanding that taxpayers accept the pain of tax rises for what he would characterise as the greater good, the public sector unions are selfishly walking out.

One striker I spoke to this morning repeatedly hollered "why won't you stop and debate this in detail" - my answer was "because I, unlike some, have to go to work". For ordinary taxpayers around the country who just want to get on with their lives, pay their bills, raise their kids and hopefully one day retire, the contrast is just as stark.

While the rest of the country pulls together and fights on, the PCS are throwing their toys out of the pram and demanding more sweeties.

As I passed - and, I confess, paused to heckle - several PCS union strike pickets on my way through Westminster this morning, two things struck me.

The first was that the strike is clearly a flop. Most of the pickets I saw were down to a skeleton crew of one person per office, which is even less than the previous strike a couple of weeks ago.

The second was how massive a political mis-step this is for the public sector unions. No doubt their intention by holding the strike today was to piggy back on the Budget and force Alistair Darling to cross picket lines on his way to deliver the speech.

In practice, though, how does this look to ordinary taxpayers? On the day the Chancellor will be talking about the pain of recovery, outlining the latest figures on our vast national debt and probably demanding that taxpayers accept the pain of tax rises for what he would characterise as the greater good, the public sector unions are selfishly walking out.

One striker I spoke to this morning repeatedly hollered "why won't you stop and debate this in detail" - my answer was "because I, unlike some, have to go to work". For ordinary taxpayers around the country who just want to get on with their lives, pay their bills, raise their kids and hopefully one day retire, the contrast is just as stark.

While the rest of the country pulls together and fights on, the PCS are throwing their toys out of the pram and demanding more sweeties.

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