Who's running this thing?!

Gamal Abdel-Gawad , Monday 20 Dec 2010

The recent trucking strike appeared to be mismanaged under an organizational hodgepodge, with unions standing on the sidelines.

Going on strike is a legitimate form of protest and is an effective pressure tool which people use to protect what they perceive as their rights. Choosing to strike is not an easy decision taken in a fit of fury, but rather is an extreme form of escalation which comes after much thought, pondering and delicate calculation. A strike in the struggle over economic gains is similar to nations' decisions to go to war.

Just as a country which enters a war carelessly and casually is defeated, so can the leaders of a strike which is not well planned lose their fight, wasting their most powerful weapon.

I’m not sure who is in charge of the truck strike, and whether the decision was taken by a trucker union or if it was the work of a group of enthusiastic activists. I do not condemn the strike and its organisers if they are not elected union members, but I do condemn the union system which appears to be standing on the sidelines as events unravel. I am disturbed to read about negotiations between the truckers and the state, and wish that talks were held between leaders of trucker unions and state officials, instead. Unions must remain active in such events and must not trail behind. Otherwise, they will lose their value and raison d’etre.

The absence of labour organisations in the truck strike makes the strike appear random and haphazard because there is no one representative to address on behalf of the protestors. There is also a lack of responsibility for possible wrongdoing and misconduct among protestors, such as the attacks on truck drivers who decided to return to work. This is a clear violation of the law and contradicts the principles and tactics of protests.

Strikes are a tool in the hands of protestors as well as their challengers. The striking truckers are pressuring the state and those who are harmed by a standstill in goods transportation. The state, on the other hand, is testing the durability of truckers without an income source. Whoever blinks first must be the one to compromise; and some truck owners have already blinked and returned to work. The rules do not force them to remain on strike if it harms their interest more than the government measures they are protesting do.

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