Thursday, 13 March 2014

Irish people can't strike

There was supposed to be an Aer Lingus strike in the airport tomorrow, just in time for St Patrick's day week-end, probably the busiest day of the day in Dublin Airport. Unions were going to protest against changes to their pension, but the high court decided to rule in favour of Dublin Airport Authority and Ryanair, and the planned industrial action had to be withdrawn.

I heard about that strike earlier this week, and we were joking in the office that doing that on the busiest week-end of the year was really "French". But then I learned the proposed protest was supposed to last only for 3 hours! Come on, 3 hours? That's not really a proper strike is it ? A few years ago, I drove by 3 men who were standing at a roundabout carrying a sign  saying "Official Dispute". I nearly wanted to stop and tell them that standing there wasn't going to make a difference in their protest.

If you want to strike "French style" you need a lot of people, marching in the street or blocking their company, burning tyres and shouting in megaphones (Bonus point if you lock your boss up until a solution is found). You also need to disrupt an entire section of the population: the ones who take the train everyday, fly, or even drive. Unions and protesters just love a good "snail operation" on a busy motorway, railway workers will always strike on weekdays and in the morning so people can't get to work, the same for air traffic controllers. To strike " French style" you have to p*ss people off big time, not just for a couple of hours on  Friday morning.

Irish people don't really know how to strike, but on the other hand, there are a lot more negotiations and discussions before staff threaten to start an industrial action and strike is always the last resort. In a way it seems to be a more mature way to handle a difficult situation.

I've never gone on strike, ever. Well, I nearly went once. There was a march organised by secondary schools, the year of my Baccalauréat. It was to protest against changes to programs and the lack of teachers and resources in schools in general. My school wasn't taking part but I wanted to go, you know, to miss a day at school  by solidarity. By the time we got the approval of the principal, took the bus and arrived on site, it was over. Ah well...!