The big brouhaha here in Ilfracombe is that government health-and-safety regulations are once again making it impossible for the town to have a real bonfire on Bonfire Night. Instead locals will be holding sparklers as they watch a film of a fire on a jumbo screen.
Don't get me wrong: I love my adopted country. I like the current government. I even like Gordon Brown (yes, I'm the one). But if the government can see fit to dictate the minutiae of a small town's Guy Fawkes festivities, why can't it interfere with something as nationally significant as the Communication Workers Union's strikes against Royal Mail?
You needn't be Alistair Darling to know that companies are losing significant sums because of the strikes. Shopping-comparison site Kelkoo.com estimates that they will cost each UK retail business an average of £840 a week. Given that the UK has roughly 319,000 retail businesses, that's a lot of sterling that won't be finding its way into the government's tax coffers--never mind the potential catastrophic effects continuing strikes could have on the direct marketing sector, which relies much more heavily on Royal Mail than bricks-and-mortar retailers do.
Yes, we all know that fireworks and bonfires can injure and kill observers. But if the postal strikes last much longer, they may well injure and even kill some businesses. Will the government intercede in the strikes then?--SC