Sun | Jun 26, 2022

Mi a go pon strike, too (oh, wait, I can’t)

Published:Monday | May 16, 2022 | 12:07 AM
Striking National Housing Trust workers took up their position at the intersection of Knutsford Blvd and Oxford Road, St. Andrew, on May 13. University & Allied Workers Union VP Garfield Harvey claims the Finance Ministry is blocking the NHT from increasin
Striking National Housing Trust workers took up their position at the intersection of Knutsford Blvd and Oxford Road, St. Andrew, on May 13. University & Allied Workers Union VP Garfield Harvey claims the Finance Ministry is blocking the NHT from increasing workers’ benefits.
The air traffic control tower at the Norman Manley International Airport stood empty as staff withdrew services last Thursday.
The air traffic control tower at the Norman Manley International Airport stood empty as staff withdrew services last Thursday.
With the entrance door locked and placards posted, NWC workers at Leaders Plaza in Mandeville played a game of dominoes during strike action last Tuesday.
With the entrance door locked and placards posted, NWC workers at Leaders Plaza in Mandeville played a game of dominoes during strike action last Tuesday.
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I have never been accused of being a union buster, and I am certainly not a member of the high management team in its ivory tower.

Yours truly identifies with the blue-collar folks more than you might think, especially because I see first-hand how difficult some of them have it. I know people who have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. And I’ve met others who only have one job, but take all the extra shifts that they can, including working on public holidays, to get a little extra. Plus, I’ve got a glimpse of the supervisor-type life, and, quite frankly, it’s not really for me. Arguably, the best time of my work life was as a bona fide member of the rank-and-file contingent.

I say all of that to say that when workers who already aren’t rolling in dough feel like they have to strike to get some attention, I sympathise. In this day and age, especially where things are as tight financially as they’ve ever been, there is nobody who has a job who doesn’t want to be paid suitably to do it. We all can’t win the lottery. So when people who have remained faithful for years, hoping and waiting for an elusive payday (and the respect that comes with it), then you know they’ve had enough.

WATER IS LIFE

But here’s the problem. Dependent on the sector you’re in and what your job entails, simply calling in sick or showing up at work to play dominoes and sip some rum really does no one any good. So while I understand the National Water Commission workers pulling their services (and then the air traffic controllers), a part of me kinda feels like they held the country at ransom. Water is life, and while a strike by the people who ensure that it gets to your pipe will certainly get the attention of the powers that be, it’s tough on the public who have no control over the workers’ salaries and payment packages. But that’s how it is. The people who do some of the most important jobs sometimes don’t get ‘real’ pay. And often the only way to get it is to gwaan bad, which affects the very public they serve. It’s a vicious catch-22.

Media workers like me can’t go on strike. Well, I mean we can, but nobody is going to really give a damn. Think about it. With all the blogs, vlogs, websites and social media accounts these days, sometimes I wonder if people are even still listening to the ‘traditional’ media houses. So if reporters decided that they want a raise, especially since 99 per cent of media houses are privately owned, it will not hit the public with the same force as when they turn on their pipes and get air. So that part of me is maybe a little badmind against people who do what is generally considered an essential service. Oh well, at least the two aforementioned groups are back at work, but how many more strikes are we going to see? Mek mi drink some water yah.

Link me at daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com.