British public sector workers strike over ‘poverty pay’

Go Lean Commentary

The grass is not greener on the other side.

Go from being a big fish in small pond, to small fish in big pond.

These expressions are relevant in considering the fate of so many Caribbean Diaspora that had fled their Caribbean homelands over the past decades to take residence in Great Britain. Many of them sought refuge as career civil servants; (one reason [a] was the acute racism and intolerance encountered in private enterprises). These ones are faced with the harsh reality that pay scales in the public sector have not kept pace with inflation; they are now at poverty level. See the news article here:

By: Tess Little (Editing by Stephen Addison)

British strike 1LONDON (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers including teachers, council workers and firefighters staged a 24-hour pay strike on Thursday in a stoppage that has prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to pledge a crackdown on union powers.

Protesters marched through the streets of many of Britain’s main cities in one of the biggest co-ordinated labour stoppages for three years.

Denouncing what they called “poverty pay,” they demanded an end to restrictions on wage rises that have been imposed by the government over the past four years in an effort to help reduce Britain’s huge budget deficit.

In London, demonstrators marched towards Trafalgar Square at midday, chanting “Low pay, no way, no slave labour” to the beat of a drum. A giant pair of inflatable scissors, carried by members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), read “Education cuts never heal.”

Firefighter Simon Amos, 47, marched wearing his uniform behind a flashing fire engine parading members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). “The government [is] making us pay more for our pension for it to be worth the same, and making us work longer,” he said.

British strike 2The biggest public sector union involved, Unison, said early reports showed the strike had led to 3,225 school closures with more than 1,000 others partially closed.

Refuse collectors, school support staff, cleaners, street sweepers, care workers, nursery assistants and social workers were joining the strike, it added.

Hot spots, it said, included the North East, Wales and East Midlands where most council offices had closed, while more than 60 picket lines have closed most services in Newcastle.

“It is a massive decision by local government and school support workers to sacrifice a day’s pay by going on strike, but today they are saying enough is enough,” said Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis in a statement.

Britain’s coalition government has enforced a policy of pay restraint for public sector workers since coming to power in 2010, imposing a pay freeze until 2012 and then a one percent pay rise cap, resulting in a fall in income in real terms [compared to inflation].

The Cabinet Office played down the impact of the strike, saying that most schools in England and Wales were open and that fire services were operating throughout the country.

British strike 3On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament he planned to limit unions’ powers to call strikes.

“How can it possibly be right for our children’s education to be disrupted by trade unions acting in this way” he said.

Tough new laws would be proposed in the Conservative manifesto for next year’s general election, he added.

These would include the introduction of a minimum threshold in the number of union members who need to take part in a strike ballot for it to be legal.

The manifesto could also back the introduction of a time limit on how long a vote in favour of industrial action would remain valid.

The NUT mandate for Thursday’s strike, for example, came from a 2012 strike ballot based on a turnout of just 27 percent, Cameron said.

The issue of minimum voting thresholds last arose three months ago when a strike by London Underground train drivers caused huge disruption in the capital, prompting Mayor Boris Johnson to demand that at least half of a union’s members should vote in favour for a strike to go ahead.
Source: Reuters News Service; retrieved 07/10/2014 from:

Frankly, the Caribbean Diaspora employed in the British public sector can now do better at home … in the Caribbean.

This is the assertion of the book Go Lean…Caribbean. That once the proposed empowerments are put in place, the Caribbean Diaspora should consider repatriating to their ancestral homelands.

Unfortunately for the Caribbean, this societal abandonment has continued, since the early days of the “Windrush Generation”[a] right up to now. In a recent blog post, this commentary related analysis by the Inter-American Development Bank that the Caribbean endures a brain drain of 70% among the college educated population; (

Change has now come to the Caribbean.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This roadmap will spearhead the elevation of Caribbean society. The prime directives of the CU are presented as the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy & create 2.2 million new jobs at home.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The book posits that the improved conditions projected over the 5 years of the roadmap will neutralize the impetus for Caribbean citizens to flee, identified as “push and pull” factors. This point is stressed early in the book (Page 13) in the following pronouncements in the opening Declaration of Interdependence:

xix.   Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.

xx.   Whereas the results of our decades of migration created a vibrant Diaspora in foreign lands, the Federation must organize interactions with this population into structured markets. Thus allowing foreign consumption of domestic products, services and media, which is a positive trade impact. These economic activities must not be exploited by others’ profiteering but rather harnessed by Federation resources for efficient repatriations.

This foregoing article highlights other issues that have been prominently addressed in the Go Lean book, namely that of the Civil Service and Labor Relations. There is the need for a professional staff in the Federal Civil Service. They require marketable benefits and compensation. There is also a role for Labor Unions to play in the elevation of Caribbean society. The Go Lean roadmap envisions an inclusionary attitude towards unions. The Go Lean community ethos is that of being partners with unions, not competitors. The book features specific tools and techniques that can enhance management-labor relationships.

These issues constitute heavy-lifting for the regional administration of the Caribbean:

  • fostering best practices for federal civil service and labor unions,
  • minimizing the brain drain, and
  • facilitating repatriation to the homeland.

These issues cannot be glossed over or handled lightly; this is why the Go Lean book contains 370 pages of finite details for managing change in the region. The book contains the following sample of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the Caribbean homeland:

Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – The Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations Page 32
Strategy – Competition – Remain home   –vs- Emigrate Page 49
Strategy – Agents of Change – Aging Diaspora Page 57
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Versus Member-States Governments Page 71
Implementation – Year 1 / Assemble Phase – Establish Civil Service Page 96
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Trade Mission Objectives Page 116
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Anecdote – Experiences of a Repatriated Resident Page 126
Planning  – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean Region Page 127
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Labor Unions Page 164
Advocacy – Ways to Manage Federal Civil Service Page 173
Anecdote – Experiences of Diaspora Member Living Abroad Page 216
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217

The Go Lean roadmap has simple motives: fix the problems in the homeland to make the Caribbean a better place to live, work, learn and play. There should be no need to go abroad and try to foster an existence in a foreign land. So for those of Caribbean heritage working in the British Civil Service, we hear your pleas. Our response: Come home; come in from the cold.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people residing in the homeland and those of the Diaspora, to lean-in for the empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This Big Idea for the region is a dramatic change; one that is overdue. The policies & practices of the past have failed Caribbean society. Too many people left, yet have little to show for it.

Caribbean music icon Bob Marley advocated this same charter for the Caribbean Diaspora. He sang to “come in from the cold” in the opening song of his last album Uprisings in 1980. How “spot-on’ were his words in the following music/video:

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Cited Reference
a: “There was plenty of work in post-war Britain and industries such as British Rail, the National Health Service and public transport recruited almost exclusively from Jamaica and Barbados”. Retrieved July 10, 2014 from:

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