The secret history behind Michael Gove’s opposition to strikesPosted on June 6, 2011
Liberal Conspiracy have unearthed an interesting fact about Michael Gove – the Minister who strongly criticises striking teachers this week was himself once a striker, at the Aberdeen Press and Journal. As Sunny Hundal of LibCon puts it:
Maybe Gove does know why workers strike when they get pushed too far by employers, but just won’t admit it.
Maybe someone should ask why Gove thinks its wrong for others to strike when he happy to do so himself.
I say Michael Gove’s strike history is interesting because it does raise an important question. If he once thought it right to strike, why has his opinion changed? The answer, as with so many things, is easily found through Googling the history of the strike – something Sunny apparently decided to skip in favour of the implication that Gove is a hypocrite.
Sure enough, it doesn’t take long to find out what happened in the 1989-90 NUJ strike at the Aberdeen Press & Journal. According to Tom Morton, who was a journalist in Scotland at the time:
THE STRIKE at Aberdeen Journals between 1989-90 was a nasty, brutal, long dispute, and the results were all bad: diminished, compromised newspapers; bitter divisions between re-employed strikers and those who had worked throughout the dispute; a devastating effect, financially and morally, on the National Union of Journalists, and, following the final “settlement”, anger from NUJ freelances at the attitude of the NUJ leadership towards them.
The Journals dispute, along of course with Wapping, put the final nail in the coffin of closed-shop union working in Scottish journalism. It caused upheaval among families as journalists were sacked, couldn’t sustain a living freelancing, suffered health problems, moved home. No-one who experienced it would want to put themselves through anything similar again.
So there’s the answer to Sunny’s question – Michael Gove opposes this strike because he has learned from bitter personal experience precisely how counterproductive striking and trade union militancy is. Simples.