Letters To The Editor, 25/26th December 2017

A Lesson On Strike Arvind Mani, Nadi On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired 11,359 air traffic controllers who ignored his order to return to work. The sweeping mass
25 Dec 2017 13:00
Letters To The Editor, 25/26th December 2017

A Lesson On Strike

Arvind Mani, Nadi

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired 11,359 air traffic controllers who ignored his order to return to work.

The sweeping mass firing of federal employees slowed commercial air travel, but it did not cripple the system as the strikers had forecast.

Two days earlier, nearly 13,000 controllers walked out after talks with the Federal Aviation Administration collapsed. As a result, some 7000 flights across the country were cancelled on that day at the peak of the summer travel season.

Mr Reagan branded the strike illegal. He threatened to fire any controller who failed to return to work within 48 hours. Federal judges levied fines of $1 million per day against the union.

To the chagrin of the strikers, the FAA’s contingency plans worked. Some 3000 supervisors joined 2000 non striking controllers and 900 military controllers in manning airport towers. Before long, about 80 per cent of flights were operating normally. Air freight remained virtually unaffected.

Take your pick as to which explanation most represents what actually happened. We can interpret the union debacle as nothing less than a clear manifestation of virulent, deep-seated Republican anti-unionism, or we can view the strike as one of the dumbest and most self-destructive moves ever made by a labour union.

President Reagan issued an ultimatum: Return to work within 48 hours, or be fired. Incredibly, convinced that they had the US government by the gonads, the air traffic controllers remained defiant. They continued the strike.

The damage the strike did to organised labour is immeasurable. Basically, it ruined everything. By allowing a Republican president to publicly humiliate a big-time union, organised labour exposed itself as not only “vulnerable”, but “toothless”.

This wasn’t simply another example of management winning a strike; this was an example of management—the government in this case—clobbering a union, eviscerating it. With everyone watching, the White House went toe-to-toe with a big bad labour union, and kicked its ass.

This very public ass-kicking inspired businesses everywhere to rethink their tactics. Why tip-toe around? Why treat organised labour with undue respect when unions can obviously be beaten down? The strike changed everything. And the saddest part is that it didn’t have to happen. The whole sordid episode was self-inflicted.

Fortunately, for the ATS, no such harsh action has been taken by the management – so far. It has shown remarkable restraint and has kept the dialogue open with the fervent hope that common-sense will prevail, but everything has a tipping point; employees must realise that no one is indispensable. Everyone can be replaced at the drop of a hat. 

Thank You

Spencer Robinson, Suva

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge with gratitude two of my former employers, namely the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) for transforming me to what I am today!

I am honoured to have been part of these teams I call my second family.

Thank you to all the staff for the inspiration and leadership throughout my years of engagement with these two amazing, effective and dynamic institutions.

I wish the awesome staff of MOA and BAF a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Cheers!

Change Parties

Amenatave Yaconisau, Delainavesi

Political parties perform many functions including communicating the wishes of people to the Government and informing them of issues.

What can we say of people who change parties like underwear, whichever fits? Selfish and self-interested?

Boxing Awards

Dhirendra Prasad, Lautoka

I salute the Mulomulo Boxing Club for taking the initiative of doing something, which the national body managing boxing has failed to do.

What you have done is the way forward for boxing. Infact, there should be incentives given to boxing clubs to promote this gentle-MAN’S game in our country.

This club has groomed many boxing idols for our country, which should be given credit. I wonder if any of our national executives were present at the function mentioned in the Fiji Sun (December, 23rd, 2017). Our boxers deserve such recognition at this level of their competition. 

Many thanks to the organisers and sponsors for this great initiative. This shows that there are people who are genuinely interested and involved in boxing. At this juncture I salute all the promoters as well for taking the associated risks to organise boxing programmes for us.

It is high time boxing is given the funding it deserves to take us to another level. There are numerous potential boxers roaming our streets aimlessly. Grab them, train them with incentives and you will see the result. This will not only reduce loitering, the crime rate, drug use and other societal illnesses, it will enable them to become disciplined with an aim to lead a happy family and become productive citizens.

To the officials of Mulumulo Boxing Club, keep up with your great work.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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