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Urgent advice needed. Would YOU freelance during a strike?

(30 Posts)
Spidermama Thu 22-Feb-07 12:31:01

I have a dilemma.
I've been desperate to get freelance shifts at a certain BBC establishment. They've finally offered me a shift, but it's during the strike by staff.

The argument for ...
It's good money and they might like me and use me again.

Against ...
It might alienate me from other workers there and they might not use me again.

I wouldn't have to actually cross a picket line as my shift starts before the strike does.

What would you do?

Spidermama Thu 22-Feb-07 12:53:53

Somebody? Anybody?

themoon66 Thu 22-Feb-07 12:56:53

I wouldn't do it. I would support the strikers. But then I'm a trade union rep with strong opinions.

foxtrot Thu 22-Feb-07 12:58:28

Sorry if this sounds flippant, but, if the other workers are on strike, how would they know you were working on that day?
Seriously though, if you are freelance, the strike wouldn't be your concern, and so how could they hold it against you? I thought all that 'all for one etc' stuff had gone out of the window now that striking is so regulated?

bubblerock Thu 22-Feb-07 12:58:29

I'd say do it, you have no reasons to strike you don't currently work for them so why should it affect you?

vitomum Thu 22-Feb-07 13:01:36

A friend had a similar thing recently. they were not part of the strike but worked in the same building as the strikers so would have had to cross the picket line to go in. as a solution they all worked from home that day. I don't really see what that achieves but the key thing seamed to be that they didn;t cross the line which you won't have to do either. i take it you are not going to be covering the work of one of the strikers? in which case i would go in.

Firepile Thu 22-Feb-07 13:04:35

I absolutely wouldn't. Am sure that those who are going out will tour the building to see who is leaving anyway. And you will have to cross a picket line to get out, surely?

And on a slightly crosser note - are you really comfortable with managers sacking current members of staff - I understand that's what the strike is about...

Firepile Thu 22-Feb-07 13:06:43

And some of the people that make decisions on rotas may well be on strike, depending on what job you're doing. Undermining their action will certainly not endear you to them.

Marina Thu 22-Feb-07 13:08:09

Agree with firepile, really - the BBC is treating some of its staff very badly at present. Reverse the position - how you would feel if you were striking and freelancers came in to cover for's not really just about being spotted crossing a picket line, is it?
am also an active union member so likely to be biased though...

FiachraFrogakaDave Thu 22-Feb-07 13:09:37

I personally would have no problem with it - have crossed a picket line or two in my time.

Spidermama Thu 22-Feb-07 13:12:17

I WOULD be doing the job of a striking person but I WOULDN'T have to cross a picket line (though that's a bit of a technicality in the circumstances.)

FIREPILE I'm not entirely sure I know what the strike's about. I saw a notice the other day and just remember it saying cuts and redundancies. I'm not sure what's going on.

I've been cut and treated badly by the beeb in the past and, although I come from a union up-bringing, I never really saw this as a union issue. I take more personal responsibility for my job and feel it's my personal bad luck so have never called on a union. Although I feel these people are striking about work which has already cast me aside so in a sense I've been getting work on my wits ever since - why should I champiion their cause.

That's not to say I don't respect the unions and wish they had more clout because I do. I'm a socialist.

The nature of the job means people WILL know I have worked .... so I guess I need to know to what extent this will alienate people.

Spidermama Thu 22-Feb-07 13:14:01

If I thought it could get me more work with them later I think I'd have to do it because I've been trying to get into this establishment for well over a year now.

But if I do the shift then there's no chance of other work I'll feel cheap and evil.

Firepile Thu 22-Feb-07 13:30:20

It's my understanding that the strike is specifically about sacking a number of people. However, it is part of a longterm strategy of cutting / casualising / outsourcing the workforce.

I used to work for the BBC, and know that they treat people (especially those on short term contracts) really badly. However, the evidence is pretty clear that it would be worse in a non-unionised workforce, which is what you seem to be advocating. And it is ridiculous to take "personal responsibility" for people being sacked when it has nothing to do with the competence of the staff members involved. it sounds to me like you are saying, "I got pissed on, so it's all right for the same thing to happen to other people, adn I wil facilitate that".

I think that your (possible) future colleagues would be right to be hacked off with you, tbh. They are not standing on the picket line for fun...

UnquietDad Thu 22-Feb-07 13:31:35

I would and did. As a freelancer, you do the work or you don't get paid.

vitomum Thu 22-Feb-07 13:33:16

it's a horrible dilemma. Personally i would not do the work of a striker. Conversly, if i was on strike i would feel very hostile to the person who did my job for me during that period.

bundle Thu 22-Feb-07 13:36:44

gosh spidermama, I wouldn't hold it against you

the strike is one of my non-working days so I don't have to worry..but i left the NUJ a while back (they were crap)

mytwopenceworth Thu 22-Feb-07 13:37:16

i wouldn't. i couldn't. but then i am the daughter of a miner who stuck out the strike, so i could no more cross a picket line than i could dunk babies in a deep fat fryer.

AitchTwoOh Thu 22-Feb-07 13:44:13

i would. i work with a lot of Beeb people and plenty of them deserve the sack. oh, the moaning i've listened to, while they sit there with their pensions all tucked up. i'd love to see them try to hack it as a freelancer.

everywhere's tough at the moment, you've got to do what you've got to do if you really want to get in there. your only question is will you be vilified for it at a later stage. and yes, the world will go to hell in a handbasket if we all think like that, but i don't think that bleating about some media jobs will make any difference to the big picture. which is that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

bundle Thu 22-Feb-07 13:47:46

spidermama, I think it depends on which bit of the beeb, some are more militant than others and many people would view the management/system as unfair and not people like you

Spidermama Thu 22-Feb-07 14:14:02

OK I've turned it down. I think I would have hated doing a shift knowing under those circumstances.

Thanks everyone for helping put the sides to and for so well. In the end I didn't want to be the desperate freelancer picking up scraps in a strike situation in the hope of getting more. It seems a little desperate.

I agree with whoever said that there are a great deal of people at the beeb who don't deserve to be there. It could almost be argued that those people are preventing the likes of me, (harder working and better) from getting the casual work or contract work but hey!

Firepile I was never 'advocating a non-unionised workforce'. Your posts were really, well, firey! I was weighing up both sides and you treated my like an evil scab for daring to consider it. It's views like this which give the unions a bad name.

AitchTwoOh Thu 22-Feb-07 14:25:49


Spidermama Thu 22-Feb-07 14:29:44

Firepile Thu 22-Feb-07 15:13:38

Hi Spidermama, I didn't mean to be firey. I don't even think I was being particularly cross. (Need to bear in mind that people can't hear tone of voice when it's written down, though...)I was trying to put the point that there is a wider issue here about real people with real jobs getting sacked.

And you're right that you didn't advocate a non-unionised workforce. You said you didn't think it was a union issue if people got fired, though which does somewhat beg the question of what unions are for... I was guilty of a bit of an extrapolation, there.

I don't really understand why anything I posted would give unions a bad name, though.

MrsPhilipGlenister Thu 22-Feb-07 15:14:04

No, I wouldn't.

edam Thu 22-Feb-07 15:20:01

See you've made your decision (which I applaud) but FWIW I wouldn't do it. Out of principle. Also, last time the Beeb had a strike various VIPs were on the picket lines - imagine the shame of creeping past Jeremy Paxman! Bet he'd have some choice words for you. Doesn't matter if strike starts after your shift, you'll be spotted leaving.

Only time I'd cross a picket line is if I fundamentally disagreed with it on principle - eg my sister worked during a Unison strike (she was a member of a different union) because she was caring for people with learning disablities and thought it wrong that those workers hadn't been exempted. Journalism's hardly the same.

Otherwise it's united we stand all the way - are you with the fat cat board directors with gold-plated pensions and million-pound pay offs if they screw up, or with the poor bloody infantry?

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