Tue 21st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Tue 21st Oct 2014 at 16:13pm

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  • Anonymous

    “when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit”

    As a public sector work who could have struck today but did not, no, I don’t think it does fulfil those conditions. As the article states, talks are still in progress. In any case this is much more an issue for those who have been in the public sector for a long time – the pension arrangements for more recent recruits are different anyway.

    None of my colleagues who have struck have gone onto the picket line downstairs. They’ve treated it as an unpaid day off, to do things like shop for Christmas or have their hair done. I think if they’re going to strike, they should strike properly, not treat it the same as leave.

  • Mikethelionheart

    I am striking today.
    I have been a teacher for 2 years now.
    I don’t really support the pension side of the strike because it was not long ago when I was a private sector worker and could only have dreamed of a pension deal as good as the teachers’ pension. However, the fact that our extra payments are not going into our pension pot but going to the treasury, the dishonesty of the tories and the fact that the strike is (for teachers) not only about pensions and pay but also the ridiculous stress and pressure put on us nowadays, I fully support the strike and hope we have another if the tories are going to get Thatcherite and think they can bully and lie their way to victory.

    I have also used today as a lovely little unpaid mini-holiday to get some jobs done.

    Overall, I’ve really enjoyed today. Now for another cuppa and to put my feet up.

  • Bob Hayes

    I fully support the right to strike within the framework very well expressed in CSD 304. So where are we today? Well, talks are not exhausted so maybe the action is premature. Is the action contrary to the common good? This, I am afraid, will be difficult to gauge amongst the claims and counter-claims. The trade unions will claim massive support for the day, but that no-one was endangered by the action. Meanwhile the PM has already described the day as a ‘damp squib’, but other spokesmen will no doubt claim the action has cost the economy hundreds of millions. Is a ‘proportionate benefit’ achievable? This one-day stoppage is very unlikely to secure any, let alone all, concessions sought from government. 

    I should add that contrary to the claim in the article that, ‘For low-paid workers, especially, they face a dramatic reduction in the amount of money they take home each month’ this is not, in fact, the case. Those on £15,000 or less – the real lowest paid in the public sector – will not be disadvantaged by the changes. It is those in the higher, and highest paid, posts who will pay the greatest contributions increase and receive reduced pensions. The lowest paid are being used as propaganda – and a battering ram – by the high and highest paid in the public sector: that is morally dubious.

  • Anonymous

    Talks are actually NOT in progress as the Government has delivered the ultimatum that the unions accept the deal or they will be punished with the offer’s removal and its replacement with a harsher deal. The Public sector workers are being blackmailed and bullied into accepting a deal – or facing worse consequences.

    Avenues have therefore not merely been exhausted – the public sector workers are now in a position of being victims of an intrinsic moral disorder [judicial intimidation] – compounded in the plain-and-simple fact that irrespective of a declining economy; they were contractually hired within the public sector to pay a certain pension rate with guaranteed retirement at 60.
    This action against them therefore contravenes the fifth, seventh & eighth commandments.

    You are also referring to ‘the common good’ in utilitarian rather than Aristotelian teleological terms – You are referring to ultimate utility regardless of the deontological rightness/wrongness of the act itself as well as disregarding the ultimate telos of the act of striking towards the furtherance of social justice – you are also imposing a false premise that that which damages the economy is axiomatically objectively wrong-in-itself. Slavery, a 100-hr working week and a maximum rate of pay of £1 an hour might all ‘benefit’ the economy but it would in no way promote [and please don't bandy the word around recklessly] ‘The common good’ as envisaged by St Thomas.

    Please explain in what way the economy is damaged – given that it is the strikers who are penalised by losing a day’s pay?
    The government may claim that as 10% of the workforce is striking 10% of the GDP is lost [i.e.£500,000] this is actually a false corollary – the public sector is in general a predominantly money-spending part of the workforce rather than money-generating.

    Those choosing the public sector over the private chose lower pay and job security combined with guaranteed early retirement and reasonable pension provisions.

    So is the strike unjust?
    Should any Catholic really need to ask?

    Rerum Novarum, Quadragesima Anno, Populorum Progressio, Solicitudio Rei Socialis, Caritas in Veritate?!!

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘This action against them therefore contravenes the fifth, seventh & eighth commandments.’ The fifth commandment – really?

  • Anonymous

    A bit late to ask, as we either have or have not. I did, as did all of my Catholic colleagues.

  • guest

    “but public sector workers are demanding pensions that people in the private sector no longer have: they are, therefore, not thinking about the good of the country as a whole.”
    I have been paying 10% of my wages per month to my work’s pension fund, for 25 years.  I also pay NI, Income tax, Council tax and road tax.  I started work on the understanding that I would retire at 60.  I am now told I’ll have to work to 68.  My pay has been frozen for the last 2 years, with changes to conditions making my working week longer; no pay rise for the next 2 years either.  I don’t earn bonuses, unlike those in the private sector (a member of my family in the private sector recenlty got a bonus amounting to just under my yearly salarly)
    Making sure everyone has an equally rotten pension is not fair or just, it’s just sour grapes of the worst sort. Can’t private sector workers take action about their poor pensions, rather than wishing equally poor pensions on us?
    I am not happy about strike action, but it is certainly not anti-catholic nor anti-christian to participate as long there is no violence or intimidation inolved.  I am not required to be a slave, I can withdraw my labour if I want to- unpaid, of course.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘Talks are actually NOT in progress …’ Not so. From The Guardian website - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2011/nov/30/public-sector-pensions-november-30-public-sector-strike?newsfeed=true - not a noted ally of the Coalition Government: 

    Negotiations are now progressing further at scheme level as requested by the TUC. Recent and future official-led scheme level meetings: Education: 3 further meetings arranged with General Secretaries on 1, 7 and 15 December and 2 further Technical Group meetings on 6 and 14 December.Health: 3 further meetings planned on the 2nd, 7th and 15th of December.Civil Service: Met this Tuesday, further meetings planned each Tuesday until Christmas.Local Government: Met this Monday, next meeting on 12 December.  These meetings are tripartite between unions, employers and departments. 

  • Anonymous

    Yes – violence against one’s neighbour – bullying, intimidating etc contravenes the inviolate nature of human dignity – read what violation of the 5th commandment entails in the penny catechism.

  • Anonymous

    er…sorry Bob but by definition these are not negotiations – these are more akin to Don Corleone’s offers they cannot refuse.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘Bullying, intimidating etc’ can indeed describe aspects of government and employers’ behaviour. Likewise those terms could be used to describe the purpose of picketing. I know, I have done my turns at picket duty. 

  • Bob Hayes

    If these are ‘offers they cannot refuse’ why go on strike. Remember CSD 304 and the aim to obtain a ‘proportionate benefit’. Please don’t tell me you support people taking futile and costly (to them) strike action.

  • Anonymous

    Strike action is the last resort – perfectly viable and permissible in aiming towards ANY potential benefit in this paradigm; proportionality enters the fray when there is non-categorical injustice [a morally disordered situation where it is permissible for one to walk away, accept and to endure it] ; that does not apply – this is judicial injustice and must imperatively be opposed [an intrinsic moral disorder which must be opposed lest one enters into submissive conspiracy]. Because of the Government’s position – inaction has become a impossible action lest one falls into commission of collaboration with injustice against one’s neighbour.

    The Government is being utterly recalcitrant – reneging on a contract; forcing them to pay more contributions and work an extra eight years to gain that already promised pension ; and for what reason?

    George Osborne has already stated why: To accelerate a balancing of the books; in other words this has nothing to do with a rebalancing of the public/private ‘injustice’; rather this is governmental grand larceny.

    The Public sector workers have been left with no other option – especially once the Government categorically stated they will not provide a better deal – rather they will enforce a worse one should this one be refused.

    In the sake of Justice for us all – we should be supporting this – for a crime against our neighbour is one against our very selves.

    So from a moral theological perspective – it’s not a question of questioning the morality of the strike [which has become axiomatic] – it’s more a question of how we should act to support the strike.

  • Anonymous

    An irrelevance – we’re not speaking of exigent immorality but of the fundamental inherent injustice. How the strike in actuated is not pertinent to the validity of strike action; nor can it negate it.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    Reading the comments here, I wonder if most of the writers are in touch with reality. Every working person, bar the very rich, is going to suffer in the coming years due to the gross mismanagement of the economy by, in particular the previous government and the bankers. Add to this the ready acceptance, by many of the people, of cheap loans which enabled them to overspend and indulge (encouraged of course by the government) so leaving many in debt when the crunch has come (and will get even worse). In the situation we find ourselves now it is useless to cry “unfair” – of course it is unfair, but the task now is to get ourselves out of the mess and striking at this time is the height of folly.  In previous times one took a job in the public sector on the understanding that pay would be less than in the commercial world but this was balanced by a secure pension and job security. However,  some of the public sector, including teachers, got very large salary rises some years back which increased their pension entitlement hugely (this should have rung warning bells) and this is just not affordable in today’s straitened circumstances. Too many people have been acting like the foolish virgins of the parable and did  not make contingency plans – and this includes politicians, bankers but also the general public many of whom were only too happy to go along with the immediate gratification culture while the more prudent lived within their means. I have felt betrayed for years by the spend what you haven’t got culture and the low interest rates which encouraged this and discouraged saving. However I realise what’s done is done, and  now we must all try to try to get out of the mess and not hinder what is being done to help. It is not as if the public sector are being reduced to penury – certainly it is much tougher than what was expected but we will all be affected and many will be worse off than teachers and local government bureaucrats. The time to take action is when the politicians are called to account at election time. It is quite pointless to talk about entitlements when quite plainly the country is living “on tick” – and if one sector gets “entitlements” inevitably others will suffer.

  • Anonymous

    As the tide comes in all the boats rise. In fighting for better pensions unions will help force private companies to offer pensions that are reasonable. 

    Private companies USED to give much better pensions than in the private-sector, its not hardworking public-sector employees faults that private companies are not giving fair pensions. 

    Even though I am not a public-sector worker, I definitely support the strike. It could help push private pensions up, and I want people who I employ (as a taxpayer), such as teachers and the police to be given a pension that it fair for their service. 

  • Bob Hayes

    I now fully appreciate the meaning of ‘pontificate’ as a verb.

  • Bob Hayes

    ‘Bullying, intimidating etc’ are also terms that may be applied to bombastic, arrogant, rude, condescending, narcissistic and intolerant postings on a discussion forum….

  • Mariano Barrientos

    I am not sorprissed it all by the position af the Vatican about the right to strike, only an organization against the right of the poor to have human rights in their own land (Latin America, Africa) because according to the Bishop of Rome La teologia de la Liberación has according to him socialist fundation, putting a side the facism of the Rich tours the poor people of America, what is the poor people of USA wants? Justice, enough is enough rat zinger the people has had enough and remember Rusia an France

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    What’s important is that the Catholic church in an official capacity stays out of it.

    “Where the Catholic church does not have an obligation to get involved, it has an obligation to not get involved.”

    I don’t remember who came up with that maxim, but it accurately reflects what should be the church’s approach to political engagement.