Workers United
Shall Not Be Defeated!
(Nor Shall They Be Rational)

We have recently had another fine example of the horrendously naïve, blinkered, and irrational philosophy of socialism at work here in Northern Ireland as 200 postal workers walked out of a Royal Mail depot in Belfast causing two and a half weeks of postal disruption. Why? Fuck knows. There has never been a clear and proper explanation given for the unofficial and illegal strike action. The only thing we have been offered is a vague story of alleged bullying and harassment, most likely in relation to the union official, loud mouth and general upstart, Eoin Davey who was himself sacked by Royal Mail for bullying and harassment. After almost three weeks postal workers returned to do the job that they’re paid for after an agreement stating that Royal Mail must not target the strikers for disciplinary action, must have an independent review of industrial relations, and that the workers must not strike again for 12 months.

It must have been a fairly quick 12 months. Postal workers were back a mere 5 days before they were threatening to get permission from their union – the Communication Workers Union – to hold a ballot for an official strike, because this time Royal Mail were refusing to give unlimited overtime to workers who had been out on strike. Shock horror! Imagine, refusing to give illegally striking workers a shit-load of overtime paid at a higher rate to do work that they should have been doing instead of standing warming their arseholes and scratching their balls at a picket line. Oh the injustice! As things stand another strike will probably be avoided, but the CWU stand ready and willing to fuck up the lives of thousands of people throughout the country if they deem it necessary.

The strike had a massive impact. Many small businesses suffered from serious cash-flow problems as cheques and business failed to reach them; essential bank notices never arrived; tax returns never made it on time; patients missed hospital appointments; some employees never got paid because times sheets weren’t delivered; and even some inquests had to be delayed because the relevant people hadn’t received notification. The Federation of Small Businesses have said that in the event of another strike a number of small businesses will close – inevitably leading to unemployment. Postal workers themselves suffered during the strike. Many workers didn’t want to strike but were forced to through intimidation and bullying. In fact, a representative of the CWU was forced to resign because he disagreed with the unofficial action.

Unions are not protectors of “the worker.” They are insidious little viruses that prey on workers under the pretence of giving them assistance and improving their lot. Their propaganda campaign has, however, been very successful, since it certainly seems that most people would agree with the assertion that unions are good for workers. The truth is that unions are to workers what sharks are to wind surfers. Their philosophy is irrational; their behaviour that of the playground bully; their mindset a horrendous mixture of psychosis, instability, self-righteousness, paranoia and good old-fashioned nonsense. The only way the unions can be put in their place (oblivion) is by convincing people that they do not offer a good deal to any living breathing entity with the exception of fat-cat union bosses drunk on power. How is this to be done? The typical philosophy of the unions is socialism. It is this that needs to be challenged and rejected: And it is the free market that must be embraced. The former is irrational; the latter rational. The former immoral; the latter moral. The former the means of enslavement; the latter the means of freedom. The former will destroy the workers; the latter will offer them the best deal.

In a free market employers must bid for the services of workers. If an employer pays wages that are too high then, all other things being equal, they will put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. However, if they pay their workers too little then they will constantly lose employees to other companies and organisations and must regularly engage in the costly business of recruitment. In a free market wages are simply the prices that employers pay for human labour. These prices are not determined by the whim of either an employer or a union. Like the price of anything else in a free market it is determined by the law of supply and demand.

The problem that we face is that we don’t have a free market. In the particular case of Royal Mail there is no competition since Royal Mail is a coercive monopoly protected from competition by an act of government. The employee benefits package (which I refer to by the term “wages”) is therefore not determined by a free market. This gives the unions carte blanche to force wages up above their market level, which leads to three foreseeable but ignored consequences:

(1) Unions restrict production

When wages rise arbitrarily and beyond the market level then the production and operational costs of any given company will increase. This is turn leads to either a stunting of the growth of production or a cut back, with the result that goods and services that might have been created or brought into existence to the benefit of consumers are not.

(2) Unions cause unemployment

As unions force wages above the market level companies cannot hire as many workers as they might have been able to, and with the increasing costs of production and operation – leading to production cut backs – there will not be the need for as many employees. So, basically one group of workers get their high wages at the expense of a group of people who cannot even get a job and are forbidden from competing by offering their labour at a lower cost. It should be noted that minimum wage legislation has exactly the same result for exactly the same reasons. But, the government deem it necessary to forbid us from working for any given company for a privately agreed wage package. In doing so they put us at the mercy of unions, socialist workers parties, pressure groups and other interfering busybodies.

(3) Unions penalise workers and the general population

With higher wages come higher prices. F.A.C.T. It’s basic horse & carriage stuff here. The typical union war cry is that employers can “absorb” their proposed wage increases by taking the money out of company profits, thus avoiding the need to increase prices or reduce production. This argument is economically naïve, irrational spew. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that production is driven by profits and that constant wage rises must by necessity eventually cause a reduction in production or service and/or a rise in prices. With this rise in prices the cost of living is increased for other employees in every other sector, which in turn leads to their unions demanding pay rises and which sets up a never-ending cycle. Ironically union leaders are among the first to express indignation when prices rise, except when the prices in question are those paid for human labour of course.

The blinkered short term view of unions is downright dangerous. The recent action here in Northern Ireland shows how the country and livelihoods of so many people are at the mercy of the arbitrary whims of unions who can officially or unofficially bring its members out of work for the sake of a minor point of disciplinary procedure that should have been dealt with internally.

Capitalism is the only politico-economic system to free society from the choking, life-threatening noose of union activity. Of course, under capitalism workers will be free to form themselves into unions if they wish. However, companies will not be coerced by acts of parliament into dealing with unions. Moreover, under capitalism Royal Mail would not have the monopoly that gives so much power to unions. It is capitalism – the free market – which will create a better deal for workers. History tells us that wages and levels of employment rise in proportion to the degree of market freedom. This should not surprise anyone with more than half a brain (which I suppose excludes the vast majority of socialists). With greater economic freedom business has been able to make giant leaps forward in terms of technological progress. Technological progress in turn made businesses much more efficient and this lead to industrial expansion, and the creation of new markets. Under such conditions wages and levels of employment cannot but rise. It is demand coupled with competition that leads to wage increases without causing the unemployment, higher prices and the loss of production and services which socialism inevitably gives us. Notably, even China – that bastion of government control – has had to free up its markets to grow. It seems that China has been sipping at the cup of capitalism, yearning for a good deep drink to quench the thirst caused by the dry stifling philosophy of statism that it currently embraces.

Instead of blindly embracing the doctrines and practices of socialism, workers would be better off uniting in favour of a freer, and ultimately capitalist, economy. Then they truly will not be defeated, because reason and morality will be on their side.

Stephen Graham B.Th (Hons)