Anon Ymous, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't support fair pay for teachers, doctors, nurses etc. These people are front line workers and even the most right wing would admit these people deserve a decent wage and, to an extent, a decent pension.
The problem is the army of adminstrators, coordinators and other assorted backroom staff who don't provide frontline services but seem to take home decent pay and pretty good pensions. If we could diassociate the backroom staff from the frontline staff in the public sector and apply cuts to them, their pay and pensions, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't support that (apart from the people facing the cuts of course).
But it doesn't work that way, which is sad, because it means teachers get cuts to their salaries and pensions in the same way the diversity coordinators and the climate change operatives do. I know which ones I'd rather see being adversely affected by the cuts!
F451, I tend to agree that it's not helpful for the Gove to be out there telling unions they are wrecking the economy, as much as it's not really unreasonable to expect unions to have a majority supporting the strikes and voting in them.
However, I don't see the 'suffering', but then maybe my idea of suffering is a bit more closed that yours is. I don't deem people being asked to take a cut in their pension pot suffering, for me suffering is the people being murdered in Egypt just for wanting free and fair elections.
Also I don't see how they can change direction on this issue, other than going to the culling the population solution!
My problem with these strikes is that they were organised back in September when the TUC decided to have a national strike, and funnily all of the unions have worked towards that date. It's as close to old system of sympathy strikes as you can get, whilst still being legal.
It feels to me like a few old dinosaurs throwing their weight around to try and prove they are still relevant. It seems to me that when the tories get into power we get these strikes, they respond by curtailing strike laws, to much support from the electorate (if you went to a referendum tomorrow with the question, should unions have to raise gain a yes vote at least 51% of their membership to go on strike, I guarantee you would win comfortably).
The unions think they are playing the big man, standing up to the government, reality is they are making their own graves. Gove was the fall guy, he said what Cameron, Osborne et. al. were thinking. If the unions continue down this path Cameron will have not option but to restrict strike powers.
The question then is, which way to the Lib Dems fall? For my money they'll be allowed to abstain on conscience, with a few rebels voting against, but Cameron will win by a decent majority (if assume all 317 tories vote yes). If they choose to vote against the proposal then it will end the coalition and probably trigger an election. If that happens, on this issue, the tories will get their majority.