Archive for January, 2016

Living on a Prayer

The Bon Jovi song ‘Living on a Prayer’ says:

‘Tommy used to work on the docks. Union’s been on strike. He’s down on his luck. It’s tough, so tough.’

First of all, the Union won’t be on strike. The men and women IN the Union will be on strike. There’s a difference. The Union will be acting on behalf of the workers, who will have a grievance born out of the struggle between Capital and Labour. The Union is the voice of the workers and, more likely than not, the workers will be driving the strike, not the Union.

Secondly, Trade Unions were really formed to stop strikes, not create them. The Union Bureaucracy don’t want strikes, especially on Tommy’s docks. They want an easy life. Their job is to keep the militants in check. They don’t want young hotheads like Tommy threatening the power of Capital any more than the bosses do.

Thirdly, Bon Jovi present Tommy as a victim of circumstance, but what if he is fully conversant with the aims and implications of the strike? More likely than not the strike will be against casualisation of the dock labour force. Does the singer think Tommy would be better off standing in a cage each morning, waiting to be chosen for day’s shift at a vastly inferior wage, with no guarantee that he will have work for the rest of the week?

I think the strike action is about making sure Tommy and his girlfriend can achieve more in their new life than just economic survival. Without the solidarity of his fellow workers and the more committed elements of his Trade Union, there’s not a lot down for either of them. Or any future family. On their own, they’re not even half way there.

I wish the band would think about these things before they write their lyrics.

I address Tommy directly: Look beyond yourself and towards the bigger picture and there’s a good chance you’ll make it. I swear.