More pathetic political point-scoring

GAH!!!! So the rail strike may start again next week. That’s a pain. From what I can tell (again, but I’ve done more research this time), the RMT is striking because there was a UK-wide agreement on a cutback to 35 hours a week and Network Rail in Scotland has not implemented plans that have gone through in other parts of Britain.

Network Rail says what worked in England may not work in Scotland, and the RMT says Network Rail attempted to switch shifts from 12 hours over three days to eight hours, cancelled safety briefing days (unconfirmed on the Network Rail site), and have carried out ‘rule book’ testing in signal boxes. Also, since the strike started, the RMT have accused Network Rail of placing ‘scab’ managers in the signal boxes who are inadequately trained (Network Rail says the replacement managers are well-enough trained, thank you very much, but then they would, wouldn’t they). Network Rail says they have offered, on more than one occasion, to go to Acas. The RMT have completely rejected this, saying that decisions made in arbitration with Acas are not enforceable, despite BBC Radio Scotland pointing out that it can be if both parties agree to abide by the decisions.

Let’s take this one at a time. I think (and Neil was the one to point this out) that eight-hour shifts are surely safer for passengers than 12. I don’t see any issue with testing at all — are the RMT signallers incapable of doing their jobs and cannot stand up to testing? Network Rail have had to bring in other signal managers BECAUSE of this bloody strike, because they need to provide some service, and RMT is directly responsible for that. The fact that the RMT has categorically rejected any sort of arbitration and dispute resolution through Acas lays bare their intention to make all our lives difficult.

(Aside: this morning, the SNP’s Feargal Something Or Other — why is it always the SNP who like to show how unfit for government they are — said the “First Minister Jack McConnell” and “Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Tavish Scott” should be held accountable because the government puts money into the rail network and should have resolved the dispute, even though Network Rail is a private company. He banged on and on, repeating their names over and over again, accusing them of doing nothing, ignoring the fact that if the government had spent time on it the SNP would then accuse them of sticking their noses in a private company’s affairs when they should be concentrating on governing. And so the cheap political soundbites continue in anticipation of May’s election.)

The more I read and hear about this dispute, the more disgusted I am with the RMT. Sure, I agree that if a company is trying to exploit its workers, they have a right to industrial action (even though I’m Singaporean). However, in this case, the RMT has shown quite conclusively that they are not willing to even try and compromise, neglecting their professional responsibilities, and being completely and utterly selfish. I have no sympathy for their Scottish signallers, who appear to be on a great deal, well-recompensed for a job with amazingly short hours, and yet they are demanding to dictate all terms of employment to their employer.

Who the hell do they think they are? Bring on automation, I say!

RMT strike in Scotland continues, Network Rail, undated
48-hour strike action by RMT signal workers in Scotland over safety issues and the failure to implement a 35-hour week to go ahead, RMT, 3 March 2007
Scottish signallers’ strike ‘rock solid’, says RMT, RMT, 7 March 2007
Union slammed for not using Acas, BBC news, 8 March 2007

A baldly greedy, cynical scam — IMHO

The European Convention on Human Rights must be one of the most abused codes there is in the UK. This time it’s a teenager who wants £70,000 from the Highland Council because she was placed in Protestant foster families and sent to schools that weren’t “suitable for her learning disabilities.”

The teenager alleged Highland Council had “failed to facilitate” her religious persuasion throughout that period, the court was told.

Um, if your foster family went to a Protestant church, were they banning you from going to a different one? Has your forgiving, turn the other cheek Catholic upbringing been irreparably damaged by living with a God-fearing family that practises their religion slightly differently from yours?

The girl also complained about being sent to schools which did not provide lessons suitable for her learning disabilities, spelling and hand-writing problems.

Since I don’t know what that specific learning disability is, I can’t comment. Her school should have noticed she was having problems and adjusted their teaching accordingly.

The girl claimed that as a result she suffered anxiety, depression and educational impairment and was still being treated by doctors.

She also claimed that she found it hard to get a job and has suffered loss of earnings as a result.

No doubt her current ‘issues’ and treatment are being paid for by the NHS. As is her right (so I am led to believe, for surely the government is financially and legally responsible for everyone’s actions — yes, that’s sarcasm). And at 18, I highly doubt she is earning enough to claim £70,000 from the local council.

Animal stories to warm the cockles of the soul and scare the crap out of you

rescued doggiesEveryone together now: awww. These two adorable dogs were found by a stalker (WTF?), and have been roughing it in the Highlands since at least October.

They are thin and covered in ticks, but how sweet do they look? If I could take in a pet, I would take them. Unfortunately, it’s been quite strongly suggested that I avoid casting my thoughts in that direction (there is a visceral hatred of cats and fear of taking on the responsibility of a dog in the household).

Calf image from WikimediaFrom that heartwarming Movie of the Week tale, we now turn to a story Terry brought to my attention. It turns out that a hungry calf in India has been catching and eating chickens from the coop, leading neighbours (people neighbours, not other animal neighbours) to speculate that Lal the calf was a tiger in a previous incarnation.

“Instead of the dogs, we watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal, sneak to the coop and grab the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat,” Gour Ghosh, his brother, said.

Local television pictures showed the cow grabbing and eating a chicken in seconds and a vet confirmed the case.

The end is nigh. Eh?

John Reid sounds like a real eejit

John Reid is beginning to sound more and more like a politician I love to hate, the koala-like Johnny Howard*. He plans on forcing all foreign residents in the UK to carry ID cards, among other things.

Mr Reid told BBC Breakfast: “It is unfair that foreigners come to this country illegitimately and steal our benefits, steal our services like the NHS and undermine the minimum wage by working.”

If he’d done his job correctly in the first place, my visa number, National Insurance number, and driver’s licence number should be more than enough to identify me to the NHS or DSS or whatever other S that I am not able to claim public funds — it’s typed right there on my visa. Since I would rather die than go into hospital in the UK (come to think, I would probably die from MRSA if I went into a UK hospital), and I have pride and self-respect (unlike the UK nationals who game the system to get welfare even though they can work), I do bristle at this tarring of all foreign residents with this brush of suspicion.

The Home Office kind of needs to clean up their own house before they start coming up with ever more complicated plans (i.e. job justification) to handle ‘threats’ from illegal immigrants.

* Seeing how he’s held on to power for over decade, being as provincial and ignorant as he is is clearly a great political strategy.

The days to come are gonna be a rush rush rush


Sleeping on your side, either side, is your favouritest position
You’ve just played pinball with your head
Not the most comfortable night ever

Couple that with a birthday present to be made without Neil’s mother suspecting anything (i.e. not at home unless I’m sneaky) for this weekend (we’re also meeting Jeff this weekend — long time no see), a craft swap I’ve signed up to, and a non-competitive road run (for which I’m trying to raise funds on two fronts), March is a pretty busy and achy month.

Plus I’m at my job MORE THAN 36 HOURS every week so I’m severely overworked as well.


The rail union and striking workers are on a different planet or something

So I’m expecting the traffic on the motorway to be absolutely shite this evening, all of tomorrow, and Friday morning as signal workers go on a 48-hour strike. This is because of a dispute over hours.

Get this: they wanted a 35-hour week (who the fuck outside continental Europe works only 35 hours any more?). In exchange for accepting a 36-hour week (oh, the inhumanity — 36 hours, or 12 minutes a day?! Slave drivers, Network Rail are), the workers are supposed to get an extra ‘rest day’ after every 12 weeks.

So basically people who work a 40-plus hour week will spend even more time commuting over the next two days because the signallers aren’t getting their extra day off after working only 36.

Fucking numpties.

Do not, on any account, think to oneself that for someone who is so accident-prone, one has not had any accidents lately

I have a quail egg-sized bump on my left temple and my right ear is sore.

There was an unfortunate and entirely regrettable confrontation when my head came between the car door and frame. This sort of accident could be easily avoided by any normal person, but if I can sprain my ankle by standing up (by immediately falling down again), I can achieve a pinball effect using only my head and harder objects.

Good thing I like pinball, it’s one of my favourite games.

Sure, some people really need welfare, but most don’t

I agree — Single parents ‘must find work’. Cut the incentive to dole bludgers, and plow the savings toward day and after school care. Those who are perfectly capable of working but choose to go on benefit should prove via some sort of means testing why they should not work. The government should consider implementing some form of Workfare, tying additional financial help to paid work.

I still haven’t worked out why people believe that a government owes them a living (unless they have become incapacitated in service of said government). I’m a firm believer that these people who think defrauding the system to avoid employment have no pride or self-respect, and if they have children, that’s what their children learn. Hardly what you want if they are supposed to be the future of the country (although it is fairly safe to say that chronic dole bludgers are very unlikely to seek to serve the public).

This weekend I…

garden of the second house
  • watched Hot Fuzz (I did appreciate the reference to Shaun of the Dead and Bad Boys — has Simon Pegg lost weight?)
  • met my cousin for lunch at Ravello’s
  • showed my cousin’s family the second house with the big garden
  • suffered the effects of a bottle of Coke and one strong coffee all evening (i.e. the best of caffeine withdrawal — headache, nausea, chills and hot spells, and an accelerated heartbeat) and had to go lie down in the dark for an hour or two
  • had a late, light dinner of chicken noodle soup from the Chinese takeaway
  • computered
  • did the weekly shop thing at Livingston (got my messages, hehe)
  • computered some more (and I, Robot was on)