Editor's comment Facts to dispel those flights of fancy strikes. Of these, only a small number security payments in the misguided t's always pleasing when someone I demolishes a myth. The myth in of strikes actually got as far as hope that this will itself lead to a cut in question could be heard at the height receiving benefit. the number of strikes. of the troubles involving car and Not content with this bit of demoli But the ingenuity of any legislation will have to exceed the ingenuity of hospital workers. It goes something tion, the author went on to discover those who seek to get round the law. like this: "No wonder there are so that far more people were eligible to many strikes in Britain when the State claim benefit than those who did so. Back in 1972, a Conservative MP makes welfare payments to strikers Furthermore, benefits paid over the introduced a Private Members' Bill and their families." whole period of a dispute were more which sought to remove the right to benefit of strikers' dependents and the exception than the rule. Too bad that the people making the the discretionary power of the these comments — and they were by In a masterly understatement, Mr. DHSS to make payment to strikers no means confined to the anti-union Gennard says "it is perhaps surprising" themselves. The idea had a major elements in public and saloon bars — to find that, along with the unions, the flaw, which was never exposed because hadn't bothered to read the findings body directly responsible for funding the Bill lapsed. of demolition specialist, John Gennard. strikes is not likely to be the DHSS As Mr. Gennard explains: As long but employers. Some time before the outbreak of as a striker is living with his family, he labour disputes over the five per cent He examined two disputes where is regarded as head of the household. pay policy, Mr. Gennard (who lectures the employers had direct control over The wife of a striker cannot claim on industrial relations at the London two major sources of strike income — benefit herself, which means that the School of Economics) published a outstanding wages and income tax only way round this Bill would have book which examined the Stae sub rebates. These cash sources were been for a striker to desert his wife sidy theory of strikes. responsible for almost one quarter and family leaving the wife as head of In good reporting tradition, the and one third respectively of total the household and thus eligible to income. author travelled round the country claim benefit. talking to people who had been on In a separate study of one coal It's a pity that those who make the strike and those responsible for hand miner' strike, management even al effort to dispel some of the more ing out the "subsidies" — DHSS lowed the strikers to withdraw money popular misconceptions about the officials. from the NCB's holiday savings working of industry don't get the From these interviews, Mr. Gennard scheme, waiving the rule that this same publicity as those who foster money could only be drawn at Christ came to the conclusion that — far these misconceptions with statements mas or during summer holidays. from strikers and their dependents that owe more to flights of fancy living comfortably off the State during Despite Mr. Gennard's findings, than detailed research. labour stoppages — Supplementary there will doubtless be further at Benefit was paid only in a minority of tempts to "tighten up" on social * Financing Strikers (Macmillan Press). NOVEMBER 1978 5
Industrial Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 1978
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