Workers in the Transport Sectors Should Be Banned From Going On Strike
Opposition introduction: In the Status Quo, there is in most countries a balance between the rights of employers and workers. We think that the ban of any kind of strikes by the workers, which in effect would be to force them to work, would unfairly tilt the balance in favor of the employers. We think a ban is unnecessary, unfair and would cause terrible harms not only to said workers but to all of society. We will prove how the right to go on strike betters service for all and even saves lifes.
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lessons we can take from this example that will reaffirm the position that strikes in the transport industry should not be prohibited.
The crisis was caused in a big part by the fraudulent overspending from the government [[http://bit.ly/bjA6VJ]]. Let’s
remind the proposition that this is the same government that didn’t pay the workers of the public transportation company OASA for an entire month [[http://bit.ly/9Zgrlh]]. This at the end was the cause of the strike.
Strike:- Unilateral work stoppages with the intention of exacting leverage on wage or work conditions negotiations
Of course we want to remind the other side that their burden is to prove that no kind of strike should be permitted to transport workers: from an hour to indefinite strikes they should reject all and call for a ban.
2. Those engaging in the now illegal strikes will be punished with custodial sentences and/or fines which will be to the discretion of a judge who will take into account the severity of the crime and well as the offenders personal circumstances.
3. Current wages of transport workers will apply.
4. In case of wage disputes, negotiations will ensue. If said negotiations fail to yeild amicable solutions then the disputants can take the matter to a mutually agreed upon arbitrator who will make a legally binding agreement taking into account factors such as;
-Rate of inflation
-The cost of living
-Wages in comparative industries
-Ability of the govt/company to pay requested wages
5. Losing party will bear the full cost of bringing the case to arbitration in order to disincentivize frivolous cases.
6. Legally mandate employers to pay a living wage to their employees as determined by govt cost of living estimates.
We recognize the importance of workers rights to decent wages and working conditions and how they currently use striking as an option the ensure this. However we feel that;
1. Workers rights can be secured without resorting to means (strikes) that harm innocent third parties (the rest of society)
2. Even if strikes were the only way to resolve these issues, the negative effects of the strikes themselves outweigh any good that they allegedly provide.
1. The International Labor Organization and all its member states recognize the right to strike as an intrinsic corollary of the right to organize [[http://bit.ly/bkPvOJ]] It's also in the Greek constitution [[http://www.hri.org/docs/syntagma/]] If the right to strike is suspended then workers could simply quit their jobs unless they are granted the conditions they demand, which leads to a whole new set of problems.
2. Fining the individual strikers is absurd; one of the main reasons for strikes is the workers don’t get enough money. The opposition didn't mention the size of fines.
3. By saying that current wages will apply they mean that if a strike takes place illegally the current wages will apply? Or will they apply during mediation but not if there is an illegal strike? Does mediation entail any kind of stoppage that they need to clear this up? Confusing.
4. They say ”wage disputes” will result in mediation. What about other disputes like safety issues? There could also be problems with viewing the ”mutually agreed upon arbitrator” as the solution. Without leverage, the workers may end up with their having to submit to what the other side wants, since they can't threat to walk.
5. If workers can use the threat of a strike they'll end up utilizing the threat of constant mediation as a strategy, causing disruptions that are smaller in individual size but that could up being constant distraction from production. Even if they collectively have to pay for the arbitration sometimes. Other times they will pick something small that they can win in arbitration.
6. This is a bad part of their plan, because to justify what employers pay they would have to give workers only minimum wage. Which is a " living wage to their employees as determined by govt cost of living estimates". Salaries for truckers, for example, should take into account your special abilities and the time away from your family.
Transportation sector comprises of 2 main areas, firstly mass transit which involves subway systems, buses, passenger aircraft and railways. The second being freight transport for economic commodities such as food, fuel, minerals etc.
This industry is too important to the well being of the society at large to allow to be held to ransom over wage disputes. There are many far reaching disruptions in the economy caused by such strikes. Firstly, most pertinent to the freight transport sector is that disruptions in this area causes shortages of the transported goods. As demand for them remains constant while supply is reduced, the prices of these goods will rise. The shortages can be so severe that some isolated areas may be deprived of food. The harms are magnified when it is the supply of fuel that is constrained. This increases inflation in the wider economy which is especially harmful within the context of Greece as it is going through a fiscal crisis.
The latest Greek strike has caused disruptions to other vital infrastructure such as hospitals and airports 
Disruptions in mass transportation will also negatively affect the tourism industry as tourist will be unable to travel freely. This is especially harmful to Greece because of its enormous reliance on tourism which comprises 15% of GDP . The lost productivity also affects another vital activity to their economy, the maritime shipping industry which contributes 4.5% of GDP, employs about 160,000 people (4% of the workforce), and represents 1/3 of the country's trade deficit. These economic disruptions will compromise the ability of the government to solve the current crisis the nation is faced with. It is unfair for one small group to hold society to ransom in such a manner by harming third parties who have no part in the wage dispute to begin with.
Lastly, industrial action has the effect of souring relations between the employees/unions & employers
They say "the industry is too important" to be permitted to go on strike, but if this is a reason many industries should be forbidden from going on strike: health, food industry and government employees. These industries going on strike also can disrupt the economy.
If these are essential workers they shouldn't be treated as slaves and be made to work. They should be able to collectively or privately bargain for better wages. This model could make some would-be workers stay away, since they know that they can't get better conditions through going on strike.
We are against the government of Greece forcing (by putting them in jail otherwise) people to work for whatever they think is right and on whatever conditions they decide. We agree with the "loss in productivity" risk. But this can happen with dilatory practices as a slowdown. In many cases lives are lost because truckers and drivers have bad working conditions. We prefer a short time without these workers than constant bad quality and danger.
It's misleading when they argue that society is being affected by a conflict which only involves a handful of people. When the stockholders of a private company loose money because their managers failed to prevent a strike, we don't regard them as innocent third parties to the conflict only because others are acting on their behalf. In the state controlled Greek transport industry context, the Greek society as a whole is involved and is responsible for the success or failure of the negotiations between their employees (public employees after all) and the politicians elected to administer public assets. There are no innocent bystanders when a government representing the whole of society can't reach an agreement with public employees. In fact the citizens will extort pressure on the government to cause the strike to end.
The ability to strike allows unions to extort
• The Greek govt subsidizes public transport to make it affordable for people to travel. This is because every government knows that without mobility for its citizens, productivity is impaired. The govt uses tax-payer money to fund the transportation industry because it recognizes mobility as a fundamental right of the people, so to take away this right, even for a few days, one needs to have strong justification.
• Opp argues striking is also a fundamental right, so we would need strong justification to take away that right.In order to decide who’s side we take, we need a cost benefit analysis of both cases.[[http://g
We don't favor the employer having no recourse. But in Greece in the SQ they have many restrictions on striking that favor them. If you illegally strike you breach your contract.
Wages in Greece have not raised according to increments in productivity, though workers are more productive than before and than many of their neighbors, the gap between their real wages and those of the rest of the EU is huge [[http://bit.ly/bIJPAh]]. Their model will make justified increments more difficult. The Greek gvmt subsidized public transport for every citizen at the expense of the workers that are not paid timely. They acted irresponsibly and workers had reasons to go on strike. Regarding retirement: If a gvmt has populist practices, like promising early retirement, the anger and wanting to preserve the advantages is understandable. They may be unfair. but going on strike is not an unfair advantage. What is the gvmt. to do? Many things. Certainly putting people that go on strike in Jail is not the answer.
They ask us why workers would stop at reasonable concessions but in SQ the right exists but demands of lap dances for truckers are rare. Still, reasons: 1. Every pilot has a wife who wants to travel to a wedding. 2. Strikers need public opinion to favor them and pressure the other side to give in. In Greece the union moved the day of the strike because to not “hinder national university entry tests on the same day."[[http://bit.ly/a3FKL8]] 3. Most reasonable people know that their future depends on the company still being able to exist. They'll correctly predict the other side's BATNA. GM's Unions didn't. Maybe they thought that GM would get bailout money, other companies did. Anyway, there are plenty of thriving companies in the SQ with workers that can go on strike.
The Prop accuses us of Marxism. We are not debating about exploitation, retirement benefits or whether unions are good or bad. Prop can't use the unions are bad argument: we aren't defending them.
Workers rights can still be protected
1. The characterization of employers is false, in Europe employers value employee motivation as that makes them more productive so they sustain amicable relationships with them out of self-interest. Opp says banning strikes will lead to employees being sluggish in their work; but this affirms the idea that strikes are not the only tools in a workers arsenal, clearly the fear that your employees will become unproductive is enough incentive to grant them reasonable requests. This is preferable to them not working at all.
2. Pressure from society makes companies treat workers fairly. Western societies value worker’s rights; they regularly stage protests against companies which are abusive to their employees. For example, sweatshops have been universally condemned & companies like GAP have been forced to conform to proper treatment of employees even though the states their factories are based in (eg. Laos) did nothing.[[http://goo.gl/P7is]]
3. Labor unions have strong ties to political parties because labor unions represent the views of workers in the nation so the parties that champion worker’s rights are the ones most likely to win their votes. So any major grievances from workers will definitely be voiced by these parties, particularly considering the importance of the transport industry. Opp justified the harm of strikes by saying that society deserves it because they did not pressure the govt to do something about the workers grievances. But this accepts that society does have an influence on the behavior of employers, so it’s a tacit concession that society does offer a level of protection for workers. Also, this admits that political influence plays a major role in keeping employers in check, so labour unions without strike as an option can still use their political clout to protect workers. This happened with Greece’s retirement age.[[http://goo.gl/6e
We agree strikes are not the only tool in the arsenal. Nevertheless, in the case of transport workers, strikes are effective as a measure of last resort. EXAMPLE the February air pilot strike in Germany. It was planned, everyone knew about it and harms were minimized. The Company, Lufthansa still lost money but the users were able to make alternate plans [[http://bit.ly/967sWq]] .The strike had a clear ending and it happened only after negotiations with the company had failed.
Regarding society's influence in defense of workers: "Made in China" is a common motto in industrial products nowadays, yet China's abuses regarding labour rights is notorious. And most investment comes from the West. (Example: foxconn suicide workers [[http://bit.ly/cBO4q7]]. This happens because it's very hard for users to know about this type of violations. Even knowing them, they may stop using clothing from "the GAP", but it's ludicrous to say someone will stop using public transportation to protest for low wages.
We never said that society was responsible for all employer's conduct, nor that they have influence on employers in general. We said that in the case of transportation in Greece we are dealing with public employees. Results worsen in the case of private employers, where the society has even less influence.
Prop has many times repeated the importance of the transportation system and its functionality, which means that workers of this sector are not only a group of society but an important one. Each group will look up for their own interests, thus transport sector workers will defend their rights. Including strikes in particular industries were violations occur and representatives don't respond in a proper way. Example: the Greek State Owned transport company.
2. Opposition conceded that strikes are not the only way to defend worker’s, in fact they gave us a few examples of alternatives to strikes, such as slowdowns at work. So knowing that, we needed them to explain why it is that these alternate measures added to the ones we gave in our proposal, are not enough to protect workers. Particularly as we explained that should these measures fail, both sides will be mandated to find an arbitrator, and they will have to accept the decision. What we wanted here was to give workers a different last resort, one that does not have as many consequences.
We extensively analyzed the harms that arise from strikes. Firstly, by disrupting the economy and people’s lives. Specifically within the Greek context with the government trying to cut public spending that almost bankrupted the nation, the last thing people need is a stoppage in economic activity. This is a fact that was acknowledged by they opp yet they failed to justify why people not party to the labor dispute should suffer. Opp argued that strikes were effective in workers getting their demands. We agreed and upped the ante with our analysis when we showed this to be a bad thing. Striking was so powerful it became a silver bullet with which unions could extort their employers and the society. We gave you poignant examples like the UAW union which bankrupted the US automakers and Greek public pensions and retirement which bankrupted the Greek state. This extensive analysis was completely unresponded to by the opp.
The right to strike keeps negotiating power balanced
First, strikes are a valid and public way to express complaints about working conditions. If we don't let workers strike we are not letting them improve their working conditions. The reason why this may happen is that companies or governments can halt any improvement because they know that their employees will have to keep working.
Second, strikes are not necessary for bargaining, but the threat of one is a big incentive to improve working conditions and to adopt measures rapidly. In many case problems will be resolved by agreement and on time to avoid a strike. However, the threat of the strike is precisely what would prevent abuses in the future.
In the area of negotiation there is the concept of BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement) and each party to negotiation has to think about the other side's BATNA, meaning what will the other side resort to if there is no agreement. In some negotiations the BATNA is war, or buying a different house. If Strikes are banned the employers know what their own BATNA is: not changing anything.
Third, excessive bargaining power from companies and governments increases the possibility of them violating workers rights without consequences. As if it would have happened in the Greek case if workers couldn't legally go on strike, the government could punish workers that decided to take actions by jailing them. Therefore, they would have all the incentives to default on commitments with workers.
In conclusion, the right to go on strike permits workers and employers to have balance in their negotiations. Helps achieving fair decisions and it improves the possibility of reaching important agreements, since there a no better alternatives.
Also, they assert using Marxist logic that it is always the worker who will be exploited by the employer. This does not take into account basic human psychology where an individual will always lookout for themselves first. If they allow these workers to strike, how will they ensure that workers will only stop their demands at what they deserve & not ask for more? This is exactly what happened in Greece with the retirement benefits. Moreover the ability to strike hampers reform once the country is hit with tough times. This is exactly what happened when the govt tried to bring retirement benefits in line with the rest of the EU[[http://goo.gl/UlPh]]. Workers making excessive demands to employers is also what helped bring down the big 4 auto companies in the US where through industrial action they mulcted benefits that led to automakers like GM paying $70/hr per worker which made them uncompetitive compared to Toyota & led to their bankruptcy[[http://goo.gl/ZzLC]]. This will be the fate of the Greek state unless union hegemony is curbed.
Giving transport workers the right to go on strike is good for the users
Also, outlawing unions/workers/people ability to bargain better conditions is a counterproductive way to achieve public well-being since society's collective bargaining is also affected. It's clear that transport workers are members of society and should be protected as such but if the government is allowed to ban strikes for that industry; there is nothing to stop it from doing the same to health workers or food industry workers, for instance.
Banning Strikes doesn't stop them, but hides them (non solvency)
It's true that prop. is saying in their plan that we should go to mediation right away, but we have already answered that this can be used itself as a tactic. So why would the workers still use these tactics if they don't see the final payday of a mediation? First they could do them out of anger for their situation, even without coordination. Anger and frustration are a great motivator. They also could do it instead of a total strike if they didn't have the possibility to totally stop working but these tactics would be bad of employers, since this could lead to an indefinite and prolonged dip in quality of service and absenteeism.
At the end banning provokes actions to become undercover and at the same time be detrimental. Therefore, banning will not solve underlying problems, it wil only make protests more secret and more harmful.
There are better ways to deal with strikes than putting people in Jail
Instead of this the other party could use strike-breakers (people who replace strikers during the strike) in truly indispensable jobs, provide alternative transportation (taxis, subway, train way, buses), telling users to find their own transportation and organizing car pooling can mitigate the effect of strikes. Of course this is a partial solution and a temporary one, but this comes to answer the false assertion that these workers are too essential to be permitted even a day of strike. This is simply not so, and by finding better ways to deal with strikes that are a rare occurrence (since negotiation can solve problems between parties, as prop acknowledges) we get the advantages of having the right of collective bargain and at the same time we minimize the harms.
The talk about strikebreakers is also non-sense. Strike breakers can only be used in industries where the labor done by the striking workers is easily replaceable. This could be true for burger flippers in McDonald's for example, where any Tom, Dick or Harry can do the job.. This is not the case, however, with transportation workers. It’s not like there are thousands of people walking around with pilot, trucking or ship captain licenses in the street where employers can have their pick at people to replace strikers. The people with relevant experience & expertise are few & far between hence the vitality of this industry to society.
Transportation does not only entail transportation of people but also of goods eg fuel. How are these people supposed to “find their own transportation & organizing car pooling can mitigate the effect of strikes. “
Arbitration doesn't work without a credible threat and other problems with their model
This creates a perverse incentive in the employer, who could let workers know that if they leave they will go to jail. But even if this doesn't happen everyone quitting is unlikely. Employers know that unemployment pays much less than employment. As we explained previously each side has a BATNA and should form an opinion on what is the other side's BATNA. Prop. is saying that employers believe that a worker wants a 10% raise more than he wants a 100% of his salary. If there were 0% unemployment, all workers leaving overnight would be credible but in Greece, the govrnment knows better. What workers think their employer's BATNA is? they know their employers know they won't quit.Without a right to go on strikethey know their employers know they themselves have the leverage. Labor legislation and unions were born in the industrial age precisely so workers wouldn't have to choose between food and dignity.
Two points about choosing the arbitrator: 1)The prop didn't say when it would be chosen. Often the arbitrator is already in the contract when it's first signed. It's mutually agreed, the arbitrator might be the company's CEO. Or maybe a governmental agency. 2)If it's chosen later problems persist. Mutually agreed upon arbitrators puts workers at the mercy of their employers. Employers can reject every arbitrator proposed by the workers for years, thus avoiding any ruling. And the opposite: they can propose arbitrators that they favor and so the workers will reject it. There are some cases when changes are so urgent that arbitration is too long a process. Sorry, to quote again the example of the derailed train in Belgium: The strike came at once to take advantage of the publicity generated by the crash.
Furthermore, opp conceded that name of the arbitrator is something that is included in the employment contract. No one is foolish enough to leave that to a later date. It's like being hired first then discussing pay later. No one does this. If workers think the CEO or a govt agency will be impartial then so be it.
There is no reason why arbitrators cannot fast track issues that are urgent. There is precedence for this in court proceedings, where procedures can be hastened to allow for quick resolutions
Strikes are unique means to attain leverage and their benefits weight more than their harms
Strikes are unique in providing better and safer service to all users. Prop admits that the user's safety is linked to the driver. What they propose is the user to sue the company if something happens. Prop proposes this scenario: workers who know the status of the vehicles protest about lack of maintenance, no one listens, then people die in a train wreck and victims sue. Years later it goes bankrupt because of the costs of the civil case and workers are unemployed. How about workers go on strike until it is solved, management having to comply, no one dying, no bankruptcy or unemployment.
Prop says: Either workers have other ways to protest besides strikes or they need strikes to achieve their goals. A false disjunctive, since we presented strikes a last resort measure, other ways of protest do exist, standing outside with a banner and negotiating sometimes are sufficient. Sometimes they aren't. Regarding slowdowns, we are not saying that workers will succeed with those measures. Only that they'll take them out of frustration. If they accomplish anything it takes longer and there are compounded repercussions.
Also the harms of a strike can be minimized so only the company will suffer. We give more evidence of this on POI response. On strike breakers: true they can be used in the easier jobs. OK, some truck drivers are easily replaceable. Prop needs to explain why they're included on their model. We agree with the idea that It would be better for Greece to up the number of truckers with licenses, no need to put restrictions on strikes.
We never said that we want accidents to happen. What we said is that the possibility of being sued is a deterrent to the employer being careless.
You keep saying that strikes would be used as a last resort, but what safeguards do you have for when unions get too selfish and demand ludicrous benefits? How do you make sure that strikes are always used as the last resort. This is exactly what happened in Greece with the retirement benefits. It makes no sense for such a small economy to have more luxurious social benefits than Germany has.
There is no way to make "the harms of a strike can be minimized so only the company will suffer." in the transport industry. Third parties will suffer unfairly and that is a fact
The Prop. made several mistakes: They failed to match their definitions with the debate by focusing only on Unions. Their model imposed harsh punishments on strikers. They proposed that all wage disputes should be taken to arbitration. We showed the problems of the model: it treats workers as slaves, the negotiations lack leverage & that means choosing of the arbitrator can be problematic.
Opp’s reason for their plan: transport workers are important to the economy. But they didn't prove the relevance by comparing to losses from strikes in other industries.
They blamed Unions for the Greek Crisis & the bankruptcy of GM. But by their own definitions the debate was not only about Unionized workers, but that non-unionized people couldn't strike. We explained GM isn't a good example. Many companies flourish despite the right to strike.
They proposed workers would strike for any reason. We proved that there are 3 why this won't happen: 1.Strikers and their families need transport 2. Strikers need public opinion to favor them. And 3. They know that if they bankrupt the company they’ll lose their job.
Lastly they say employers aren't so bad & that the public will protect workers. We explained that some employers are bad. The public learns about worker's problems mainly when they go on strike. Users won't stop using cheap services to protest. Strikes work better & faster than politics.
We explained the need for leverage; Prop said the threat to leave is leverage enough. We proved that to be effective the threat has to be credible. Workers value their salary more than a 10% increase. In places with high unemployment, leaving isn't credible. Without leverage arbitration doesn't work. We also showed workers can take actions from anger or frustration that hurt society that are as detrimental as strikes, but being less public, they aren't effective as leverage.
We said the ability of workers to get improvements is good for users, and are swifter than a suit. Besides, suits usually come after sues. Strikes would minimize the frequency of tragedies .
They asserted that the effect of strikes can't be mitigated. We gave examples (Hospitals in Israel and US, Lufthansa and Greek unions) to show the contrary. Also, having the possibility of a strike balances negotiations, but doesn't necessarily cause a strike. On the contrary, not having this leverage can even cause violence (Winnipeg strike example).
We proved the right to strike brings benefits to workers & to society. Furthermore, prohibition will make underlying problems worse. Especially with the implementation of a plan as radical as Prop's. Banning hurts possibilities of reaching fair agreements & has severe consequences. Strikes should not be banned.
What do you think?