Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Time For Tea?

Further to our post on Icarus visiting Europe (see post), we came across an interesting graphic in The Economist:

The map show the locations of the areas of disruption, which seemed to have fallen into three categories: oil refineries, fossil fuel power stations, and nuclear power stations. It is interesting to note that, despite the general slump in UK construction, these three areas are presently enjoying something of a boom.

An interesting question is why it is that the contractors found it necessary to bring in non-UK labour to undertake the contracts. Apparently, it is better to use Italian and Portuguese labour not because they are necessarily cheaper than UK labour, but because they are more productive.

Labour productivity on the job is broadly comparable - after all, the time differences to lay a brick are unlikely to differ that widely. However, the problem is the amount of time actually spent on the job. It would seem that the UK workers were striking because they have tea breaks and their continental colleagues do not.

A winter of discontent, strikes over tea breaks, it's almost like a replay of the 1970s. This is bound to have inflationary consequnces a little way down the line.

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