Thursday, 15 March 2012

Get the Unions Out of the Olympics

The Olympics will be one of the greatest events this country has ever hosted. With 205 countries participating in 300 events, it will be an organisational feat which I for one do not envy!
Anyone who has caught the High Speed train from Ramsgate to St Pancras will have seen how Stratford has been transformed into a venue fit for an international sporting jamboree. And it’s not just London that will experience all the action. Here in Thanet, the Olympic Torch will travel via Sandwich, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, St Peters, Cliftonville and Westgate on Sea, and our local schools will host events for pupils. How disappointing then, that some wish to cast a shadow over the Games.
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, has issued a rallying cry to his union’s members to use the Olympics as an opportunity to strike and cause widespread disruption. He said the public “should support the campaign by engaging in civil disobedience” and has described the Olympics as a “leverage point” to seek concessions on behalf of Unite’s members. With bus, tube, NHS staff and others potentially on strike, years of preparation and the hard work of thousands will be overshadowed by the pay and pension demands of the few. The Olympics should be a source of national pride –not holding the country to ransom and adopting unpatriotic tactics to try and win Unite a little public sympathy.
For an organisation that claims to support everyday workers, it also seems strange to target an event that has done quite so much to create jobs and opportunities.12,500 low-skilled jobs have been created in the construction industry alone and 500 young people have been taken on as apprentices. Let’s back productivity, not mass walk-outs.
The Olympic Games will put the UK in the spotlight. Between 27th July and 12 August, we have an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the best of Britain – our history, culture, hotels and restaurants will be on a plinth, beamed around the world for all to see. My response to Unite’s General Secretary? Let’s capitalise on the Olympics for the whole of Britain, not exploit it for the self-interests of the few.

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