Bus Strike in 10th Day
As many will be aware, we currently have a bus strike in Ireland affecting rural and intercity travel.
It is over cost-saving measures that the semi-state Company, Bus Eireann, claim are necessary for the survival of the company.
You might think that it should be possible and relatively easy to establish just how serious the situation is, get common agreement with this and then work collectively and collaboratively to come up with a solution.
Part of the reason why this is not so easy, and why this does not happen, is that the situation is complex because of the very many players involved – management, the bus drivers, the trade unions, the public, and, of course, the Government and government agencies.
Different Entities, Interests and Agendas
Each of these has their own identity, their own vested interests and their own agenda.
Each of these is failing in its own way to do what is right for the overall good and, of course, does so because it can’t trust that other groups will play their part and correspond.
While this divisive situation remains in place it will be extremely difficult for any one party or all of the parties to come together and reach a good overall solution.
Divisions like this and the separatism that they give rise to are what underlie most problems in every area of society.
Brexit and Northern Ireland Peace Process
Brexit negotiations are having and will have major consequences for the situation and the peace process in Northern Ireland.
One could think that peace and the cessation of the awful violence that gripped Northern Ireland for so long would override all other considerations at this time.
But it’s not so. Unionist and Nationalist entities, just like the parties in the bus dispute, have their own vested interests and agendas.
Keeping communities divided is actually good for “business” even if that could never be admitted.
One very good way of keeping communities divided is to keep schools divided and resist any effort to introduce integrated schooling.
it is this same dynamic, this same divisiveness and insularity that is preventing a solution to the bus strike.
Shocking, Stupid and Very Common:
Shocking and stupid as this might appear, it is far from being unique.
Vested interests, narrow perspectives, insular agendas are present in most companies and organisations. They just don’t become apparent or problematic and are often seen as positive, part of the cut-and-thrust of competitiveness.
Unfortunately, with this philosophy to companies, work, and life, there will always eventually be losers.
There will also always be conflict, however hidden or out of sight that conflict may be.
Because this has become part and parcel of how we view work, companies and the world, we imagine that this is how it has to be and there is no other way.
Companies can give the Lead:
But there is another way, and companies, strange as it may sound, have a wonderful opportunity to give the lead in how to work collaboratively as one entity with a single goal that is good for everybody and to which everybody subscribes.
Of course this is much easier when there is a single or small group of company owners and there are some exciting examples of such companies who operate for the good of the entire company community rather than for one particular sector like owners or shareholders.
But, even in these cases, it is possible and it is possible for every individual manager at every level to nail their colours to the mast by always doing what is right and best for the overall good.
Of course this is not easy and, as always, there will be some price to be paid.
However, that price will be nothing compared to the price that is being stupidly paid by the bus dispute, could be paid by jeopardising peace in Northern Ireland and will be paid by all of us unless we gain the wisdom to always do what is for the overall good rather than our own narrow vested interests.
This is a challenge, an invitation, and an opportunity that every manager faces many times every day.