Strike action must not last

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TOMORROW will see the biggest display of public disaffection with the Government probably since the Poll Tax demonstrations against Margaret Thatcher.

It will be the largest public sector strike and demonstration since the 1980s. Seldom have the unions managed to unite across so many sectors, from local government, border controls, hospitals and schools.

The effect will be massive. We will see the largest number of school closures from industrial action, courts will cease doing business and thousands of hospital operations have been cancelled.

Public opinion is divided about whether the unions are right to strike. There is a degree of sympathy for their cause, tempered with a sense of frustration from many in the private sector who look on in the belief that those working for public authorities and the state have up until now been sheltered from the harsh realities of the recession and austerity measures.

The unions have to tread warily if they are to continue to carry public support. Disruption to the public, who will have to incur cost as a result of their actions, must not become a habit.

Strike action is a blunt tool which should be used as a last resort - and only when there is a real chance that it will work to win concessions.

In this case, it is highly unlikely the Government is going to bend. So if the dispute is going to continue, less disruptive measures will have to be found.

Equally, the onus is also on the Government to find a solution to a dispute that is costing the wider general public money - money they can little afford.

We need jobs as well as houses

THE Government is right to encourage people to become first time buyers and climb on to the initial rungs of the property ladder. That will spark a revival in many sectors of the economy which thrive on people moving into new homes.

And there is certainly plenty of cause to believe that the coalition is serious about this proposal which will pump up to £400 million into the market and encourage scores of thousands of people to become home owners by underwriting mortgages with public money.

But they must remember that the economic crash came about primarily through reckless lending on properties, encouraging people who could not afford a mortgage to become indebted far beyond their means. For this not to happen this time round, the Government should also direct its attention to that other important factor in the economic chain of our nation: job creation.