Excellent snippet from my Negotiation text:
In the UK we constantly watch government spokespeople and employers fall into the trap of reinforcing the behaviour of difficult negotiators, though, no doubt, they feel they are undermining it. A strike takes place, for example, and government spokespeople queue up to tell the media just how ‘damaging’ the strike is to the country and to the strikers. They appear to think that the strikers – behaving in just about as difficult a way as they can – will heed these warnings and return to normal working. They have the opposite effect. The strikers interpret the warnings of the ‘damage’ they are doing as confirmation that their behaviour is having some effect: ‘If our strike is causing these important people to notice what we are doing and to inform us of the damaging effects of our actions, then we must be doing the right things to get our grievances addressed’. This usually prompts the pseudo game of passing the blame and responsibility for the alleged damage of the strike to the other side: ‘Increase our wages and we will stop striking and if you don’t do this then you are to blame for the damages caused by the strike’.
However, if the spokespeople were to shut up about the strike itself and were to concentrate instead on the disputed issues, they would weaken the commitment of the strikers to persisting with their actions. Keeping workers on strike is a difficult task for the union and it must continually reinforce the employees’ solidarity with assurances that their actions are having an effect, in order to stop erosion of support for strike action among the employees. Strikes can crumble quickly when their actions have no perceived effects.
I’m glad I took this course. It’s quite insightful and I’m really enjoying Gavin Kennedy (the author)’s writing style.