Frederick Douglass

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them..." Frederick Douglass

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Czech Transit Strike Postmortem

One-day strikes are mostly symbolic, and the Czech transit strike is a fine example.

Some non-union members joined a march in Prague, and the Czech public was overwhelmingly supportive of the strikers, but the government pushes forward with the remorseless budget cuts which prompted the strike. If the unions hope to have any effect upon policy, they need to strike indefinitely.

The following is typical of one-day strikes:

Everybody can be satisfied: union leaders had emotional speeches and television paid attention to them, union members appreciated the march through Prague and threw tomatoes at the finance minister, rail workers had a free day and can consider themselves winners because no train operated on Thursday, and the government was not harmed by the strike in any way...

If everybody can be satisfied, then the strike was meaningless. Results are what count.

The Czech government is now considering stronger anti-strike laws.

Prague - The Czech opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) would initiate a no-confidence vote in the government if it went ahead with its alleged effort to limit the right to strike, party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said after a meeting of the party´s executive committee today.

The party also criticised President Vaclav Klaus for his statements about the daylong nationwide transport strike on Thursday.

Klaus said the government should take a more resolute stand on the unions and possibly dismiss the strikers.

That the right of people to gather freely; to forge associations; to act in concert; to bargain collectively; and to refuse to submit to unilateral impositions against them in their workplaces; that these essential freedoms are under siege the world around, and are in most places and in varying degrees illegal, is a measure of our subjugation. If we cannot dissent; if we cannot declaim; then we are not citizens but servants. Where we as a whole should own the process, we are owned. Where governance should be the collective enterprise of the whole, we are governed by the few.