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Thread: The Butterfly Effect: A British AAR

  1. #3401
    not a beta for HoI3 Moderator Derek Pullem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KiMaSa View Post
    I'll admit it's hard to be objective when it comes to one's own country. Hard to keep from emotional responses... but not being fully objective does not in of itself make me wrong.

    That you are a free person in a nation that seventy years ago depended upon the capacity of a free and UNITED America that built the trucks, grew the grain, built the ships. Fought the Nazis and the Japanese at the same time. Could afford the Manhattan Project AND design a new bomber (That the RAF would later acquire.) to carry the bomb... That whether you think we fought with skill or bungled our way through as Europeans and Britons are wont to suggest... We did ALL these things and under the leadership of a man whose moves toward preparedness were ALSO at the time assailed by many like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh as totally unnecessary and absolutely unwise.

    Only a UNITED America could have done all those things and then afforded the cost of spending the next forty years on guard watching the Soviet Union while our allies let us know how they truly felt about us..

    That you are a free Briton is all the proof I need that the world is better off with a strong United States. The achievements of the US of A are not those that could have been done by separate Americas.

    So... our friends and allies ... please enjoy your freedom. We ask no repayments. The brave men of all free nations that fought have paid those debts... Indeed it is to them that these current generations of Americans are indebted and owes a re-dedication to the virtues of hard work and sacrifice that made them (AND their fighting brethren from ALL free nations) the greatest generation.

    God Bless The U.S.A.
    You might be being a little ironic but in case you're not I'll just add a couple of conterpoints to your euology of American greatness.

    America built the trucks and supplied the grain - and made a profit whilst doing so. We only just finished paying off our war debts to the US

    Britain also fought the Japanese at the same time as the Germans. Except on AAR land the worst that Britain would do without American help would be in armistice with both combatants which allowed Germany to fight against Russia alone and Japan against China. Wars that even without US and UK aid (something that would have been crazy for the US and UK not to give, even in this alternate timeline) both Fascist powers were not assured of victory.

    Japan would not have taken India (and couldn't have held it anyway) and Germany could not take the UK.

    The Manhattan project would not have been completed nearly so quickly without the assistance of non-American scientists. And Britain was reasonably adept at building heavy bombers, certainly capable of modification to carry a nuclear weapon.

    As for the Soviet Union, again the affordability of the cold war was linked to the American military-industrial complex powering economic growth and the trade blocs built by America to keep the communists out.

    Britain (and other nations) had faced tyrants before and beaten them. It may have taken longer and been more painful but tyranny does not endure. As is shown by the history of the USA.

    On a final note, we are all grateful for the part that America played in defeating the tyrants but it was only a part. To suggest that America and only America was principally responsible for winning the war and preserving the peace afterwards is why America and Americans can be so disliked in some quarters of Europe.

    Real life is not Hollywood. In real life the 20 million Russians who died facing Hitler have as large a claim to ensuring our freedom as the USA. As do the millions of Chinese who prevented Japan from rolling over the richest country in Asia. And yes the American industrialists who armed and financed the eventual defeat of the fascists have a claim but only a share.

    God bless America and god bless all the peoples of the world fighting tyranny.
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  2. #3402
    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    There could be an argument put for "God Bless the Commonwealth" instead but Derek Pullem has said it fairly enough already.

    Time to bugger the top of the page rule and move on to an update to lighten the mood before things go too OT again.
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  3. #3403
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Pullem View Post
    You might be being a little ironic but in case you're not I'll just add a couple of conterpoints to your euology of American greatness.

    America built the trucks and supplied the grain - and made a profit whilst doing so. We only just finished paying off our war debts to the US

    Britain also fought the Japanese at the same time as the Germans. Except on AAR land the worst that Britain would do without American help would be in armistice with both combatants which allowed Germany to fight against Russia alone and Japan against China. Wars that even without US and UK aid (something that would have been crazy for the US and UK not to give, even in this alternate timeline) both Fascist powers were not assured of victory.

    Japan would not have taken India (and couldn't have held it anyway) and Germany could not take the UK.

    The Manhattan project would not have been completed nearly so quickly without the assistance of non-American scientists. And Britain was reasonably adept at building heavy bombers, certainly capable of modification to carry a nuclear weapon.

    As for the Soviet Union, again the affordability of the cold war was linked to the American military-industrial complex powering economic growth and the trade blocs built by America to keep the communists out.

    Britain (and other nations) had faced tyrants before and beaten them. It may have taken longer and been more painful but tyranny does not endure. As is shown by the history of the USA.

    On a final note, we are all grateful for the part that America played in defeating the tyrants but it was only a part. To suggest that America and only America was principally responsible for winning the war and preserving the peace afterwards is why America and Americans can be so disliked in some quarters of Europe.

    Real life is not Hollywood. In real life the 20 million Russians who died facing Hitler have as large a claim to ensuring our freedom as the USA. As do the millions of Chinese who prevented Japan from rolling over the richest country in Asia. And yes the American industrialists who armed and financed the eventual defeat of the fascists have a claim but only a share.

    God bless America and god bless all the peoples of the world fighting tyranny.
    *Sigh* If it sounded like I was implying that the US won the war 'single handedly' and because our hearts are all so pure... No... Of course not!

    If Britain had gone down...

    If the Nazis had not been tangled in the USSR (Inevitable since Stalin thought war inevitable but HOPED he would have more time...)

    If the PEOPLE of BRITAIN had not delivered the miracle of Dunkirk...

    But it often seems like Europeans and Britons like to wave a dismissive hand at America. "Oh yes... they did show up... Rather lousy fighters with no class and lousy equipment really but if a Briton is there to make sure the wretches lace their boots correctly, they actually might be semi productive."

    And it is TRUE the Soviet Army crushed the Wehrmacht at GREAT cost... But without the JOINT US/UK/FREE FRENCH invasion in Western Europe, The Red Army would have continued straight to the English channel... Would that have been a more palatable outcome?

    Yes The Manhattan Project was accomplished with the scientific genius of great minds from all over Europe. only the truly ignorant would deny that... Just as America got to the moon.. . on Werner Von Braun's work and with help from countless others.

    America made and MAKES lots of mistakes but so does every nation. Americans and American leadership NEEDS to learn to take responsibility for its own screw ups but these are all well covered both in the Global Media AND our own.

    What mistakes have other countries admitted WERE their own responsibility?

    I do apologize to all of you for those Americans who actually DO believe we are perfect and saved the world single handed. It isn't true and I well know it.

    I also apologize that I was not aware those debts had indeed been demanded and paid off. It won't help but I shall certainly never see the money and all i wanted was the admission that this nation was a strong asset to the cause of Freedom.

    I just cannot apologize for being a proud American who believes his country is and truly has been an asset to civilization ALONG with Britain.. From whence we get our democratic traditions to begin with even if we did modify them to suit our own needs and experience. Along with indeed every nation that believes in freedom and the dignity of man.

    With that said... I'll sit down and be quiet now. and cheer for the brave and involved Britons in Pip's master piece as THEY save the world and make sure every civilized country knows it by erecting pubs on every street corner to commemorate the triumph and spirit of the British fighting man!

    God Bless us ALL.

    BTW As for Hollywood, Yes movies like Pearl Harbor which show Americans winning the Battle of Britain are CRAP and not allowed in my house.
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  4. #3404
    More importantly, will we see Robert Green again this World Cup?
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  5. #3405
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    I suspect we've drifted far down the rabbit hole of OT land. Please focus on the AAR and game.
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  6. #3406
    Aye sir. Gomen Nasai.
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  7. #3407
    Just catching up and highly intrigued to see a Landon victory!
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  8. #3408
    Quote Originally Posted by KiMaSa View Post
    BTW As for Hollywood, Yes movies like Pearl Harbor which show Americans winning the Battle of Britain are CRAP and not allowed in my house.
    Now this is something I think we can all agree on. If only we would start and looks what's the same instead of what's different, ah who knows...?

  9. #3409
    Quote Originally Posted by C&D View Post
    Now this is something I think we can all agree on. If only we would start and looks what's the same instead of what's different, ah who knows...?
    Wise words.
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  10. #3410
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    Quote Originally Posted by CatKnight View Post
    I suspect we've drifted far down the rabbit hole of OT land. Please focus on the AAR and game.
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  11. #3411
    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    KiMaSa - Don't try all that fancy talk around here, the American revolution was a tax dodge by people too tight to pay for their own defence. Anything else is romanticising after the event.
    It's weird. The British can take Canada from the French, establish control over India, and be generally impressive without trying...but yet you guys couldn't crush a tax dodge.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Pip View Post
    Nathan Madien - While on the subject of Alf and racism/segregation any view on the OTL '36 campaign of bribing black preachers? Seems a bit of an odd but I've no idea if it's a mark of respect (they're worth bribing) or dismissive (no point talking to them, just bribe 'em).
    When you are projected to win only two states out of fourty-eight, bribing black preachers can't hurt.

    Besides, which is better? To be bribed by the Republicans who have no shot of winning or to be told "vote for us, but don't expect us to do anything for you" by the Democrats?
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  12. #3412
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    Chapter XCVIII: The Best of Intentions.


    The New Year was supposed to have seen Austen Chamberlain's government move forward with it's domestic agenda, an area that had been sidelined by the more urgent (and more glamorous) foreign policy and military reform endeavours of the previous year. Technically speaking the government achieved it's aim; several Green Papers were published on the coal industry, health and education while the work of the Conservative Research Department was used as the foundation of a substantial White Paper outlining plans to extend unemployment insurance to the entire workforce and reform pensions. Unfortunately these initiatives were comprehensively overshadowed by the catastrophic mishandling of another policy launched at the same time, an ambitious attempt at industrial reform in the ship building industry.

    The episode began the previous year with the decision to base a substantial portion of the Royal Navy at Singapore, the resultant 'Eastern Fleet' was nominally compromised of three battleships, two carriers and several cruiser squadrons and destroyer flotillas in support. This posed a significant logistical challenge for the Admiralty, primarily due to the vast distances involved. To supply the Mediterranean Fleet was a three week round trip for a 10knt tanker, including the time taken to load and unload at both ends, in contrast Singapore was more than a months journey from Portsmouth for such a vessel and was almost a ten week round trip away. Therefore, all else being equal, a warship at Singapore would require triple the number of support vessels of one based in Valletta. Even though stockpiling and other efficiencies could bring that figure down, it was clear to the Admiralty they would either need to charter a large number of commercial vessels, expand the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) or some combination of both to keep the Eastern Fleet supplied in the long term, let alone during a conflict. The choice was made simpler as the RFA was already known to be in need of more modern tonnage to replace it's Great War era relics, the Admiralty only delaying in a successful effort to squeeze more money from the Treasury by classing it as 'extra non-planned expenditure' and thus outside the planned Naval Estimates. It was at this point that the entire process was hijacked by the Lord President of the Council, Lord Beaverbrook, and used as a vehicle for a far more ambitious objective; nothing less than root and branch reform of British shipbuilding.

    The problems with the British shipbuilding industry had emerged, or more correctly come to the attention of the government, during the Abyssinian War and the subsequent Chamberlain Report. The report noted that shipbuilding had shown the least improvement in production rates, despite the pressure applied and significant bonuses being on offer productivity had remained broadly similar to pre-war levels, a stark contrast to the other war industries which all had seen a significant leap. The reasons outlined in the report were many, and more would be discovered as the Lord President's team began to study the problem in detail, and spanned a whole range of areas from poor management through to archaic working methods and obstructive unions. While some bright spots were noted, the report flagged up the Clyde yards as the worst offenders, a conclusion that was seen as a serious problem; Clydeside was home to over a dozen yards, including such key concerns as Harland & Wolff, Fairfields and John Brown & Company all of whom had contracts for the next generation of Royal Navy capital ships. The cabinet was therefore easily convinced that the matter needed attention and, given the vital defence interests involved, it was "fit and proper" that government intervened to ensure a beneficial resolution. It is interesting to note the efforts made to convince the cabinet the intervention would be strictly limited, despite the partial conversion to the ideas of Keynesian economics to combat the Depression there was no appetite for extended state intervention or open ended commitments, as had happened with the Coal industry at the start of the decade.


    The liner Queen Mary under construction. Laid down as Hull 534 she had been one of the more visible symbols of the Depression afflicting Clyde shipbuilding when her owner, Cunard, had been forced to suspend construction. Though government loans had seen work re-start on her in 1932 Clydeside had continued to suffer until the resumption of Royal Navy capital ship building and the upswing of Empire trade saw order books slowly begin to fill. The deeper problems on the Clyde however remained, while the other great shipbuilding centres on Tyneside and around the Mersey suffered from similar problems, the legacies of the 'Red Clydeside' period had left industrial relations heavily damaged with neither side inclined to trust or co-operation.


    The first step in Beaverbrook's plan was to reverse the trend of the previous decade and have the new ships constructed not in private yards under contract, but in the Royal Dockyards where the government could legitimately control the construction process. It was in pursuit of this aim of control that the Rosyth yard was selected, the other Royal Dockyards had existing workforces but Rosyth, having been under care and maintenance since the mid 1920s, had barely a skeleton staff making it a perfect blank sheet of paper, the political benefit of providing employment in a region still struggling to recover was (for once) purely coincidental. Having selected the yard Beaverbrook turned to the ships themselves, drafting in experts from the shipbuilders Cammell Laird and the vast Vickers-Armstrong group to assist on the detail of design and construction. The resultant design drew on the welding expertise of Cammell Laird, who's welding experience stretched from the world's first all welded ship, the Fullagar, up to working on the heavily welded Ark Royal and the modular assembly knowledge of Vickers-Armstrong, who could call upon the expertise of not only their aviation divisions but also their innovative Palmers Shipbuilders subsidiary. The resulting designs, though fairly conventional in size and appearance, were for fully welded diesel engined motor vessels optimised for assembly line construction, a stark change from the riveted, assembled on the slip, triple expansion engined steam ships they would be replacing in RFA service.

    Having managed to avoid serious opposition to that point, bar the inevitable complaints of the coal lobby in Parliament who objected to any naval vessel that wasn't coal powered, the problems for the scheme began when recruitment and mobilisation began in Rosyth, bringing the government into direct confrontation with the unions. To explain why the Rosyth scheme was so fiercely opposed it is first necessary to briefly explain the standard system in place at most other yards. A typical Clydeside yard would have in the region of 40 to 50 'Craft' unions, each representing an individual trade such as fitters or boiler makers, almost all of which worked together under an umbrella organisation, the United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders (USBISS). For an employers point of view this was the worst possible combination, 50 different groups to bargain with made negotiations incredibly time consuming, while the unions co-operation meant a strike by one group could (and often did) result in all 50 going out on strike at once. With such power it is hardly surprising the unions had amassed considerable concessions, most crucially very strict demarcation of work (a hull riveter would not work on the superstructure, even if the alternative was doing nothing) and complete control of the training of all 'craft' staff, which in practice meant almost the entire workforce. That last concession was perhaps the most crucial, from the moment a new apprentice was hired he would become part of the union structure, indeed as union membership was compulsory for all apprentices the union had an effective veto over staff recruitment and promotion. More importantly the unions could, and did, artificially restrict the labour market, ensuring that only the bare minimum of new staff were trained to keep supply low and their wages high.

    The combination of a shortage of staff and strict demarcation between roles limited the ability of a yard to speed up production, the system had so little flexibility it only had one speed. More importantly it stifled innovation, any change had to be agreed by dozens of groups and could not involve changing the deployment of the work force for fear of upsetting the delicate balance. Quite aside from these problems the system also ensured that a shipyards workforce was indifferent to management, correctly realising that keeping the union hierarchy happy was far more important for keeping a job and progressing up the ladder. The final problem identified was perhaps the most corrosive to change and control, the system left almost all practical knowledge resting with the unions and not management, in too many yards management just was not capable of supervising and assessing work (or coming up with new ways to work) as they lacked the skills and knowledge. Taken together it was a recipe for stagnation, but a stagnation that favoured the unions and their members, provided of course the clients kept coming and didn't consider overseas yards, a possibility that more and more clients were pondering as the price premium of a Clyde built ship continued to rise.

    With this background it is obvious why the Rosyth approach was so controversial. Instead of the dozens of different trades the yard only hired people for generic skills, for instance the scores of carefully demarcated riveter grades were replaced with just a single grade of welder, all of whom were expected to work anywhere on the site as needed. Worse was to come as the apprenticeship system was swept away and replaced with in-house training, a body blow to the power of the union but an entirely sensible decision. A riveter could spend anything up to two years under apprenticeship before emerging on the bottom rung and still needing years of experience before becoming fully qualified; it was estimated an experienced team was over four time faster then a team of just qualified apprentices. In stark contrast a welder could be trained in a couple of months in a classroom/workshop and then go straight to work being something like 90% as good as a man with years of experience, hardly a 'skilled trade' that required years of mentioning and learning on the job. Despite these colossal changes and challenges to the status quo, Beaverbrook and his team were utterly shocked by the scale of the opposition, after all pay and conditions were generous and union organisers were (grudgingly) welcomed and accepted on site. It appears that based on their experience in the aircraft industry, on which they had modelled a great deal of their approach, they believed that these measures would be enough to get the scheme accepted, in this belief they would be comprehensively disappointed.


    It is one of the ironies of the national ship building strike that the yard at it's centre, Rosyth, was entirely unaffected by it. After USBISS refused to even visit the site, one of the main aims of the strike was to see it closed and the work given to a 'traditional' yard, the workforce had unionised with the Transport and General Worker's Union (TGWU), slotting into the metalworking trade group with ease. Given the very lose structure of the TGWU, and the bad blood between their metal working members and the boilermakers unions, this was inevitable as the always ambitious TGWU sought to extend it's scope at the expense of the 'arrogant' boilermakers. Unsurprisingly the TGWU did not call a strike in sympathy, there was no appetite for a strike at Rosyth itself while it was unlikely the rest of the membership would have listened to a strike under the circumstances; the TGWU was never the most fraternal union, except when it came to absorbing smaller unions.


    In a most unfortunate coincidence the strike was called on the same day that Beaverbrook announced his final twist, a 'race' between the new Rosyth yard and a traditional yard. An identical design would be put out to contract for work in a private yard and the cost and time taken would be presented to the House for comparison. A typically showy gesture this was probably just an attempt to highlight Beaverbrooks' work and should not be taken as an ambition to bring all ship building back into the Royal Dockyards, though with Beaverbrook one can never be certain quite how far his scheming extended. In any event the lesson most dockyard managers drew was a confirmation of their wisdom in not confronting the unions, combined with a deep dislike of Beaverbrook for provoking a national strike. Indeed the depth of union opposition surprised even veteran shipbuilding experts, this was due to the USBISS' executive deciding to make the issue a 'line in the sand' over control of welding. This was a long sighted decision by the union, all across the country welding was supplanting riveting as technology advanced and techniques improved, victory was therefore essential to ensure they maintained their stranglehold over management even as technology changed.

    Coming as an almost complete surprise to the government the first reaction was one of confusion and a hasty cabinet meeting, so the cabinet could find out exactly what 'The Beaver' had done to get them into the mess. The initial relief that the strike was peaceful, and that other unions were not getting involved, was soon replaced by discomfort as it became apparent quite how serious the problem was. With almost all shipbuilding stopped, and countless other industries suffering bottlenecks and slow downs, the impact on the national economy could not be ignored while the political fall out was if anything worse. The only positive was that the press was broadly supportive, particularly the Beaverbrook papers for obvious reasons, though this was as much due to confusion over the strike as anything else; the issues were fairly obscure except to those intimately involved and the workers pay and conditions were never actually an issue, consequently most editors struggled to get a grip on the issue as it didn't fit the conventional strike storyline.

    While the cabinet was quickly able to agree they couldn't back down, backing down would severely damage the government's credibility and authority, a solution proved more elusive. There were only two outcomes, either the Rosyth yard stayed open or the government acquiesced to the union demands and returned it to mothballs, there was no obvious third option. Just to make matters that little bit worse for the government the Miners' Federation of Great Britain decided to take advantage of the situation to put the boot in, indicating it's complete disagreement with the Green Paper on coal mining and promising strike action should the subsidies be withdrawn. In the face of these problems Chamberlain's domestic agenda was soon abandoned, discarded as his government tried to extract itself from the mess of industrial conflict it found itself in.

    Notes:
    Well that's not gone well, well I hope not anyway. Last time I thought an update was bad for Britain I was told it was actually a triumph, so I'm a little wary of declaring something to be bad news. It's also considerably longer than I first thought, who knew welding could be so (hopefully) interesting?

    The problems with ship building were noticed in OTL but a little later, the Beaver tried to fix it them in 1940/41 with similar methods as in the update, but was knocked back for a variety of reasons not least an accurate fear over Union opposition delaying war time construction. This time round though the government is a bit too confident and he's a bit more senior so he gets his chance and uses it to charges straight into trouble.

    The union rules and figures are true, they did dominate the yards, management were that inept and riveting is, despite appearances, very hard to get the hang of and do quickly where as welding is exceptionally easy to pick up. However in OTL the unions managed to grab welding and, in ship building at least, it became a 'craft' with all the rules and delays that implies. Hence why Britain was still riveting ships well into the late 1950s when almost everyone else had stopped at least a decade before, one of the many reasons for it's decades long decline.

    Cammell Laird were indeed the nearest Britain had to ship welding experts and Vickers (along with most, but not all, the competition) did do modular construction for aircraft. Palmers Shipbuilding are an odd one, their Jarrow yard did indeed use modular construction as early as the 1920 to tie pre-made sections together, sadly they used rivets not welding so didn't get the full benefit of the system and were brought by Vickers during the depths of the Depression. The Royal Dockyards were still building the occasional ship at the time, however by the 1930s something like 90%+ of new contracts went to private yards while the Royal Dockyards concentrated on repairs and refits.

    Game Effects: Beside the obvious dissent I've added a long serial of convoys and pushed it, along with everything else naval, to the bottom of the build queue. As I've far, far too much stuff in the queue to start with they are therefore all red, nicely simulating the effect of the strike.
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  13. #3413
    Fascinating update Pip--great explanation of industrial relations here.

    Given union intransigence, I think the result would've been the same no matter who implemented this, and how it was implemented.

    Will the public back the gov't or the workers if this drags on? There's no war at the moment, the the gov't has less pressure to cave in, but if the economy seriously starts to tank ...

    In the long run, this plan would be a win for the future of British shipbuilding & a model for other industries perhaps--as the CIO used to post on the shop floors, "The greatest crime a company can commit against employees is failure to make a profit."
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  14. #3414
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    You should be proud El Pip, you've managed to create an update with potentially devastating consequences for Britain and make it interesting as well- I do enjoy the way this AAR continues to cover areas often skipped over.

  15. #3415
    In my eyes this strike could be a blessing in disguise for Britain. If Unions confront the government they have put themself out in the open, hopefully enabling the government to crush them. This shipbuilding strike could be the beginning of the end for Unions, and if my limited knowledge of modern British history has thought me anything, its that less union power = good for UK economy.

  16. #3416
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    Go Beaverbrook Go!

    Crush those Unions...get them back down to a useful size.

    :thumbsup:
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  17. #3417
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    Mmmh... a strike... what a shame... when Palmerston was in charge, things like this didn't happen!












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  18. #3418
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheExecuter View Post
    Go Beaverbrook Go!

    Crush those Unions...get them back down to a useful size.

    :thumbsup:
    The only useful size for Unions is 0.

    They must be defeated, for the sake of British shipbuilding!
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  19. #3419
    El Pip, that's "its domestic agenda", "its Great War" and "its centre".

    Smash the Unions. If the miners want to go on strike, great. That's the chance to move the UK from short to long wall working with its attendant savings long term and increased capital usage by mine owners. The reduction of the numbers of mining companies can only be a good thing.

    The government ought to have the twin aims of improving the effiiciency of the shipbuilding industry and not allowing the growth of the TGWU into a monster union.

    Chamberlain cannot allow his domestic agenda to become a museum policy piece, a footnote against the decline in the competiveness of British industry.

    Government needs to find a backbone.

  20. #3420
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    Lovely update Pip. A Beaverbrook sized problem I'm interested to see unfold.

    The demarcation issues with the shipyards is very similar to the problems faced by our railways in NSW at the moment. Unfortunately our politician's solution was to try to build a second rail network, to run parallel to the existing network, so they didn't have to take on the Unions over unproductive work practices but just work around them. Such silliness does nothing but give everyone involved a bad name.

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