Junior doctors have a dispute with Jeremy Hunt over pay and hours. London Underground unions disagree with TfL about new working arrangements around the night tube.
Whether the reasons for each group going on strike are indeed purely practical is in some doubt – particularly as evidence grows that the BMA has, in the words of one of its own former officials, ‘morphed into a militant, Left-wing political body seemingly interested in attacking the Government’.
But even if we take the strikers’ claims regarding their motivations at face value, there is still a fundamental problem with their actions. If the doctors’ issue is with the Health Secretary, and the tube staff’s dispute is with TfL managers, why is each group taking action which will primarily harm the public?
The fact is that every public sector strike is a strike against the people who use the service which is being disrupted. That isn’t a side effect, or unfortunate collateral damage, it is the explicit purpose of using strike action to disrupt a public service – they hope that doing so will cause sufficient cost and misery that it will bring political pressure to bear and deliver them victory in their disputes. The fact that the proposals both sets of strikers are out to stop – a seven-day NHS and a night tube – would be of benefit to the people only makes their action more reprehensible.
We hear a lot from public sector unions about their dedication to service. If they mean that, they should show it.