insider_imageOne of my favourite television programmes of the last few years was the BBC’s Life on Mars where the lead character was in a car crash and woke up as a 1970s police officer. I don’t remember a car crash and I’m certainly not a police officer but with so many strikes going on it does feel like I’ve gone back to the 1970s – and I wasn’t even born then.

Towards the end of last year we had the postal strike, then this year we’ve had the British Airways‚ cabin crew strikes and at the time of writing a rail workers strike is also in the offing.

There have also been teachers and London Underground staff strikes in recent years as strikes appear to be more of a first resort than a last resort for trade unions.

As a former delivery driver I do laugh at the idea of striking over working conditions. I worked on a self employed basis – working a 12 hour shift most days, often with no time to stop for lunch. I was paid a fairly small amount per delivery and by the time I took away petrol, insurance and running costs from my weekly earnings, some weeks I didn’t even clear the minimum wage. There was no annual leave, no ‘We’ll all muck in and cover your work while you are away.’ My round was my responsibility and if I took time off it was my responsibility to find somebody else who could fulfil my obligations. How’s that for working conditions? I’d be amazed if any of these groups of workers had to work in that kind of environment, yet I loved every minute of that job.

I don’t suppose many of them have to start work at 4am and carry heavy loads around a warehouse all day for little more than minimum wage either. I worked in warehousing and logistics for several years and at times I did have grumbles with my working conditions, and I wouldn’t have said no to the odd pay rise which was never forthcoming but surely striking does nothing other than increase your chances of ending up in the dole queue – and yes I’ve been there in the past too.

To complain about your working conditions is actually pretty insensitive at the backend of a recession which has seen unemployment rise to record levels.

When I was working as delivery driver, despite my frustrations, I was just glad to be earning money – I wouldn’t have minded some lunch though!

Warehouse & Logistics News

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