Happy New Year, especially those already back to their “good warm work” as employment in the clothing factories, shops and offices of Cookstown was described when I was a child waking to the sound of the town’s factory horns.

In those days, working in the public sector was a very privileged and respected domain.

Teachers and nurses were looked up to, and certainly considered to be financially better off than shop girls and factory workers.

People who entered the ‘professions’ came largely from the ‘middle’ and ‘merchant’ classes.

They were mostly the sons and daughters of shopkeepers; farm families with better land, and a bit more of it than the average small farmer; public sector workers; those whose parents were already in higher-value ‘professions’, and the odd working-class person whose intellect caught the eye of somebody who encouraged them to persevere, and gain a coveted King’s Scholarship.

The 1947 Education Act opened the opportunity for working-class children to aspire to being doctors and lawyers and such, although the old rural adage (perhaps a little harsh) still remained.

You needed money to be a doctor; connections to be a lawyer; and brains to be a vet.

Currently, the cost of a university education, the long hours and training periods have left many teachers, nurses, civil servants, junior doctors, junior barristers and vets with no option but to decline to sell their labour for the price offered.

The new year is likely to see a continuation of strike action.

The Government portrays this temporary withdrawal of labour as some kind of subversive action, inflicting unreasonable inconvenience and hardship on the public, but fails to note the unreasonable hardship of the labour force as the cause of the problem.

While slavishly compliant with every demand of those ‘investing’ finance to ensure a seductive return on that investment by way of profits, the Government considers the workers’ investment of labour as their solemn social duty, and expects the investor of labour to function at a net financial loss for the common good.

The historical reality is that without workers organising collectively and withdrawing their labour to drive home the unheeded message, workers would be still be chalking up average 60-hour weeks to earn their daily bread.

The State, represented and managed by the Government, has never introduced worker-friendly legislation other than under duress.

If we think of the State as a company, then the Government in the UK is the management, and even though people are in denial about the reality of the British State, the ‘owner’ is the Crown, as represented by King Charles III.

Regardless of the extent of our support for – or opposition to – that reality, as well as being citizens of the State, we are ‘subjects’ of and subject to the Monarchy, via the Prime Minister. There’s the rub!

Our battles about public services wages, terms and conditions are with the Government, and it is their responsibility as ‘management’ to ensure adequate funds exist to keep ‘the company’ solvent.

Private sector companies forgetting the cardinal rule of business – don’t run out of cash – go out of business either voluntarily or because the creditors call in the debt and force them into bankruptcy.

The owners have usually fired several managers before administrators are called in.

The UK Parliament at Westminster will be back at work next week, even if the TUV wing of the DUP still has Jeffrey paralysed.

We can expect to hear the same lame-duck excuse for the state of the economy, and the impact on the population.

The demand from government is that workers work effectively at an investment loss to protect the investment profits of corporations and ‘vulture capital’ investors.

If they really believed that, perhaps they would reduce their own wages first.

Those with lucrative salaries in second jobs or significant investment interests outside Parliament could maybe volunteer their public duties as Government Ministers.

It wouldn’t save a lot in the scheme of things, but would show a willingness and lead by example, especially as ministerial pay is an addition to their MP salaries; all of their travel expenses in going to work and getting on with it are paid, and the ‘canteen’ food is more heavily subsidised by the taxpayer than food banks are sustained by donations!

The millionaire Prime Minister has no rent and rates to pay for the use of the Prime Minister's apartment at No. 10, Downing Street, or the country house in Chequers.

His chauffeur-driven transport is also free to him, and the air travel.

He accepts all this as his right and entitlement, in exchange for his public service labour in managing the country.

What we need is an end to putting Private Capital first; to reform taxation so that the absolutely loaded, rather than the merely comfortable, pay enough tax, converting private cash to public funds with which to rebuild the public services infrastructure, including pay.

We need a political party in government prepared to do that. We would be deluded in expecting a change of management to solve the problem.

Keir ‘self-confessed Zionist’ Starmer’s Labour party – which by the available public accounts, has pocketed some £3m from the Israeli political lobby since he took over the party – merely promises reorganising the chairs on this Titanic.

If the trade union movement leadership still had the conviction, never mind the courage, they would withdraw from the Labour Party; and use the funds to support a General Strike, so we could all stay home at the same time.

That would settle the argument about the value of a day’s work, and the need for properly resourced public services.

The Corporate Private Sector would also get the point.

Don’t hold your breath on it happening until the trade union leadership remember its purpose in building a society fit for ordinary people to work and live, not live to work.

Joining a trade union, or being more active in demanding social justice action from your union, might be a good New Year’s Resolution for 2024.