Sick of Thumb-Sucking Strikers

Strike Photo
Strikers. Boring.

Two huge, public-facing companies are facing strike action as I write: Eurostar and British Airways. Of the two, the latter is obviously the most concerning for the one million people expecting to hop on a plane this Christmas, but both companies have been well and truly let down by their employees.

I have little interest in unions. While they undoubtedly have their benefits, they only seem to cause misery both to the economy and the general public. I can’t think of a strike in the last ten years that I’ve agreed with. They are nearly all futile, irritating and massively disrupting affairs.

We all know the basics of the BA strike action, so I won’t bore you with it again here, but I will give you my opinion.

At some stage in our working lives, we’ve all been in a position where we feel hard done by. Underpaid, over-stretched, bullied by management, forced to accept unfair changes to working conditions or practices … the list can go on. I for one, however, have never considered walking out. I’ve always strived to make the most of the situation or take it up objectively with those above me. And it’s always worked.

Striking, in most cases, is akin to sticking your thumb in your mouth and locking yourself in your bedroom. It’s is immeasurably childish. I used to do it on a regular basis as a kid if my mum asked me to do something outside of my remit; i.e. something productive, not involving Transformers.

Those BA staff that voted for the strike should be ashamed of themselves. Needless to say, the 12 days of Christmas they’re hoping for are going to not only ruin their customers’ already dented opinion of BA but, more importantly, cause massive financial heartache for the already cash strapped company. Reports suggest it could lose around £30m a day if the strikes go ahead. Some of the biggest banks in the world have already proved that there isn’t a business in the land that is immune from going bust … need I say any more?

I stand firmly on the side of the unfortunately named Willie Walsh, on this one and hope that the hopefull travellers bashing the F5 refresh key in the hope of some good news get just that.

Opportunity Lost?

One of my biggest mistakes recently was to follow several producer/DJ types on Twitter. Every day, I’m bombarded with tweets informing me that, having woken up at a leisurely 9am, they’re going to ‘have a shower, grab some breakfast and head off to the studio for the day’.

I’m struggling to think of anything else I’d rather do for a living. I really am. Making music and being paid for doing so is about as good as it can get, as far as I’m concerned.

I love my current job, don’t get me wrong, and I’m one of the silent minority who enjoys coming to work; I don’t see it as a chore. That isn’t a disclaimer in case my boss is reading, either.

What depresses me slightly is the path the majority of these guys have taken to musical nirvana, as it is uncomfortably close to my past.

Like me, they have a parent who is a musician. Like me, they took the opportunity to bash around on said parent’s kit. Like me, they fell in love with midi and software such as Cubase at an early age. Like me, they spent an inordinate amount of their youth producing music for themselves.

Unlike me, they kept this up and went on to make a handsome living out of it.

In my late teens I made a very conscious (although difficult) decision to pursue a path in IT rather than music. The latter seemed a little too unattainable, if I’m honest, although that’s code for ‘I was too lazy to bother’. If I’d applied myself, I could have gone to university to study some form of music technology degree, or finance a college course off my own back. Instead, I ended up maintaining a computer network at a window and door component business in Daventry. Rock and roll.

Had I chosen my other path, there would have been significant differences in my personal life, which is worth bearing in mind. It’s unlikely I’d have met my girlfriend and I’d have a somewhat limited social life, as have the likes of Funkagenda, Dave Spoon and Chris Lake. So, perhaps I shouldn’t complain…

Makes you wonder what might have been though, doesn’t it…

Better, Connected? Well, That Would Be Nice.

It’s 2010. I’m sitting on a train desperately trying to reconnect my Vodafone 3G dongle to some kind of network. I don’t particularly care what, but having to constantly reconnect to my work VPN, wait for Exchange to shake hands and then hit ‘send/receive’ – only for the internet connection to disappear as we pass through yet another part of the UK that has next to no data coverage – is proving rather tiring.

It’s not as though I’m travelling out in the sticks, or through Wales, either. No, I’m taking the rather popular route from London Euston to Northampton.

I’m not Simon Cowell or Richard Branson, therefore cannot afford to travel everywhere first class on trains that have WIFI connections. Nor am I asking for much in an age when Mr Branson is planning to offer weekends away in space.

There was yet another news story on the BBC this morning about the UK lagging behind the rest of the world in the internet race. I can’t remember what exactly the report centred around, but I can wholeheartedly agree, regardless. The internet should be everywhere, whether you’re moving or stood still. I don’t care how much people would prefer to be able to get away from the connected world, because I rely on it on an almost daily basis, regardless of where I am. Responding to emails speedily is a key driver for any business. You’ll get left behind if you’re not quick enough.

Rather than ploughing money into pointless climate-changing hare-brained schemes, the Government should ensure that 3G is available everywhere and that internet access is provided to all homes free of charge. The majority of companies supplying web connectivity are no doubt heavily subsidised by the other services they offer, and I refuse to believe it would dent their profits much if they allowed us all to connect to the information highway for little more than an agreement to pay for satellite TV, or a telephone line.

We shouldn’t have to pay quite so much abroad, either. When I was in Thailand last year, O2 wanted to charge me around £8 per megabyte for data access on my iPhone. Eight quid for barely more than a couple of emails?? Suffice to say, I’d rather place my testicles in a bowl of boiling water (I think I did during that holiday, although that was probably part of a massage).

Today has only provided one counter argument to the above, and one I’m happy to stand by. Whenever I travel the congested, sweaty, smelly London Underground, I never fail to find solace in the fact that there is not a single suited oik barking orders into their mobile phone. There shouldn’t ever be any kind of signal down there; its the only safe haven left when it comes to avoiding the terminally irritating yuppie mobile users.

But, the internet. Come on, Gordon.