Thursday, January 10, 2019

Clive Bibby: "I'm all right Jack!" - Really!


Those of you as ancient as me will remember the 1959 British film classic " l'm all right Jack" starring Peter Sellers and a long line of fellow famous British comedy actors in an iconic sendup of the British Industrial scene that had become a battleground between the trade unions and the bosses.
That film was one of the first to expose the British class warfare of the 1960's, 70's and 80's that had virtually brought the nation to its knees. I guess the fact that the film itself was a satirical comedy enabled it to make its point without inflaming the tense standoff that characterised the administrations' of Harold Wilson, Ted Heath and James Callaghan before the advent of Margaret Thatcher almost two decades later.

For most modern observers, it is unthinkable that anybody would suggest this country could be heading for similar confrontations instigated by selfish interest groups who care little for anyone outside their own little patch of influence. Well actually, l reckon there are good reasons to justify a discussion on the possibility.

Here goes.

With the exception of some amalgamated from the remnants of the once powerful public sector, the trade unions in this country are a shadow of their former self which ironically has seen workers able to negotiate more freely with bosses and  achieve more personally in a deregulated workforce.

That is partly due to the more favourable employment opportunities of a reasonably buoyant economy. It is also a result of a subsequent transfer of power from the boardroom to the individual worker who is not only able to choose which workforce he or she trains for but also to openly discuss the terms and conditions of his or her employment.

Workers seem prepared to chase the money on offer in some of the industries associated with this growing economy even if it means relocating to a new construction site every so often. This increasing mobility has enabled the company executives to tender for jobs with a degree of certainty and flexibility that makes every contract more accessible. As a result, our businesses and workforces that are increasingly operating internationally, have become more efficient and competitive.

On the basis of those observations, you could be forgiven for wondering where is the evidence that suggests we still have problems associated with those key sectors of the economy.  

OK, in isolated areas maybe but the psychological influence of the main protagonists over the rest of us is disproportionate to their numerical strength and we hold our breath every time they flex their muscles. And l'm not just talking about the unions.

Believe it or not, there are still people in this country who think they have rights that don't apply to anyone else and they are allowed to push for preferential treatment from central and local government because they know they can win.

In my opinion, these groups must be challenged just like Thatcher did in her day because any continuance of this attitude of superior entitlement by such a small percentage of our community will endanger all the combined efforts of those who believe in a shared responsibility. It is that serious and made more so because everybody knows about this elephant in the room but nobody wants to talk about it.

One thing is obvious to all who want to be in a position of taking advantage of new opportunities either at home or overseas - the world  markets are interlocked to a much greater degree than ever before and we are not immune down here in "paradise" to any disruption caused to those we service on the other side of the globe whether it is our fault or not.

Sometimes, we are going to have to accommodate changes that appear foreign to our personal and national character. We can still do that without selling our soul but we must get our own house in order first.

We can't afford to allow selfish individuals or groups who have been encouraged to believe they have a mortgage on everything that happens on their own patch to dictate the outcome of issues that affect us all.

We have never been more dependent on each other, particularly here in Tairawhiti where our options for growth are limited.
                    
As a community, we need to respond with visionary programmes that are inclusive.

Unfortunately for some, that will mean giving up a bit of their traditional way of doing things so that our combined effort will be strong enough to ward off threats that prosper in a divided society.

So be it.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.

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