Thursday, July 29, 2010

Donkeys

Here in the Peloponnese, until comparatively recently donkeys were the principal means of transport.  They are slow movers and their payload, although often unreasonably excessive for their size, is not great but they have great advantages over motor transport inasmuch as they need no road to travel along and they are powered by an infinite variety of tree and plant leaves that they browse as they work.  Owing to a strike by the nation's tanker drivers this week, the advantages of donkey transport over motor transport have become very apparent; air conditioned luxury cars and trucks that allow for one man to haul forty tons of freight infinite distances are wonderful but without fuel............!
Personally I am not too concerned that the fuel stations hereabouts have dried up.  In the short or even medium term it need not affect me.  I have a choice three sturdy pairs of boots and health and time enough to make the beautiful five hour round trip stroll to the nearest shop.  But I do have indirect concerns.  On Monday week my current visitors, my daughter and her family, will be leaving to return to the U.K.  They will need fuel enough to drive their hire car, presently a rather expensive garden ornament, back to Athens airport.  While I may have appropriate footwear and take much pleasure from strolling the tracks hereabouts they most certainly do not!  There could also be a direct problem for me if I arrive at the shop to find shelves bare for want of deliveries.
The tanker drivers have taken their action to try to make the government think again about introducing legislation to break the drivers union closed shop.  I can find no reason in the idea of a closed shop.  I believe that, in the labour market, competence should be the only criterion by which  we should be judged and our value to the concern with whom we are negotiating fixed accordingly.  However, I do understand that to suddenly and unilaterally impose changes on practices which have been extant for generations, a government must find either unprecedented powers of diplomacy or, God forbid for the consequences could be awful, authorise enforcement!

10 comments:

Andrew Scott said...

It is a shame that Unions seem to be so often taken over and dominated by the very type of people that Unions were set up to protect us against. So many things that are good in principle fail in practice. It's the human way. If the troubles continue your family may all have to become their own donkeys, and wander their way to the airport eating plants as they go. Good luck to them.

John Foster said...

But do not aeroplanes use the stuff by the ton rather than by the litre? The nicest stroll back to the U.K. would surely be along the Ionian and Adriatic coasts then into the eastern Dolomites and over the Alps into Savoy and Burgundy, where it would be appropriate to rest for a year or two, before heading on to the channel coast. There I would probably lose my nerve and retrace my path to my home. It is a recurring dream of mine!

Andrew Scott said...

That all sounds quite tempting John. Meet me in Burgundy about a year from now, then we can take another year or so to walk back to your place for my flight home (tanker drivers allowing). By the way, the lady and myself eyed up the "Strawberry Cream Danish and Coffee - £3.25" sign at Goodfellow & Stevens today, and after explaining your recommendation to her it is on our agenda sometime in the next few days. I will report back after the event, either here or more likely via a photo post on my blog.

The Flying Tortoise said...

In New Zealand, donkeys are the principal politicians...
So who has the better deal?

John Foster said...

Some may say, Keith, that you in New Zealand have by far the better deal!

The Flying Tortoise said...

I'm looking forward to seeing photos of your new outdoor kitchen John...

John Foster said...

I am also looking forward to publishing photographs of my outdoor kitchen, Keith. At my current rate of progress I may be in a position to do that at sometime in 2020.

The Flying Tortoise said...

Please let me know what day John, I see by my diary that I'm rather busy that year

Barry Williamson said...

I intrude into this private conversation with a slight air of trepidation, but safe in the fastness of the northern Swedish forests.

Only two points from many that are tempting. The first is that the strike is by the Truck Owners Confederation and therefore cannot be dismissed in such cavalier Thatcherite terms. Theirs is part of a serious struggle against the victimisation of the people of Greece by the near collapse of international capitalism. Those with income and capital, able to take shelter on a Greek hillside to play games of 'self-sufficiency' are in no position to comment on events out in the real world.

Secondly, the answer to many problems of health, pollution, access to shops, load carrying, saving ageing legs, etc, is obviously the bicycle.

John Foster said...

Thank you for all of that Barry, I value your comments. Indeed, I believe I have referred to you elsewhere in my blog as a mentor so welcome your criticism of what you obviously regard as my less than reasonable style of reporting. I admit that the ramblings I post onto my blog owe much to the Samuel Clemens school of journalism but I charge nothing and if other folk get something out of reading what I write entirely for my own pleasure so be it.
In answer you criticism concerning the strike, I stand by what I wrote concerning my belief that closed shops of any kind are iniquitous and I do not really understand what you mean by the term 'Thatcherite'. As to my personal circumstances, short of publishing a full inventory of my material worth and income, I believe that few reading my posts will have concluded that I am anything other than materially comfortable. Furthermore, the 'games of self-sufficiency' I 'play' may or may not put me in a 'position to comment on events out in the real world' but I do only play at it and surely, even you will allow me my right to free expression of my opinions.
As ever Barry, it is good to hear from you!