Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mon 11 Oct - Blocked in

Ahead of next Monday's official general strike on Belgian's trains, some swines decided to block anything going in to or out of the Charleroi area, the same direction my train heads to when I go to work. So, straight back home again. Taking into account next Monday's strike, these disruptions will lose me about €200 in teaching work. The reason for the strikes have been put down to disagreements over the transportion of cargo trains or something to do with that. Some union guys were left unimpressed after meetings with the top brass. To be honest, the explanations given in the national press are pretty vague. And so they've decided to bring the whole train network to a standstill. One word: bastards. Four words: get back to work.

I've always been, and will remain, a firm supporter of peoples' right to strike, especially public sector workers. But, the reasons have to be (in my view, anyway) valid. The reasons for the recent action in Belgium have been pathetic, needless and completely self-serving. Some would argue, aren't all strikes self-serving? Unions will claim to be working to protect the quality and sanctity of public services, whereas what many really believe is that they're merely interested in preserving their own jobs and couldn't give a damn about the public.

Whatever you may think, they don't give in without a fight in countries like Belgium, France or Spain. Unlike apathetic, moaning but do very little, Britain, if they feel they have a grievance in continental Europe, they take to the streets and fight for what they believe in. That's something I admire. It's one of the reasons their public services are so much better than ours and why we are seemingly happy to settle for the most expensive train network in Europe, poor state schools and a health service, whilst a hell of a lot better than it used to be, that's still short of the quality it should be. So, whilst I'm pissed off about losing money, that's part and parcel of life around these parts.

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