There is good reason why Tony Blair called his new Labour ideology the "third way." According to him, it sat in between the polar opposites of state socialism and free market capitalism.
When faced with two polar opposites which are equally unsatisfactory, it often seems there is no alternative but to come up with a "third way." So it is with the prospective pensions strike. On the one hand, we have the strategy of a single mass strike on November 30 and "smart striking" thereafter. This it seems is the strategy of most of the major unions.
On the other hand, some of the far left like the Socialist Workers Party are arguing for the strategy of "All out, stay out" when November 30 comes. As by far the biggest group on the far left, what the SWP says cannot be entirely ignored.
Before examining such strategies and suggesting a "third way," it has been assumed that all the other unions still balloting will secure Yes votes that are compelling enough for their mandates to be implemented on November 30.
It has also been assumed that the turnout on November 30 is good enough to warrant further action, given that a single day's strike will be unlikely to bring about acceptable concessions from the government.
But both proffered strategies have such big drawbacks that an alternative third way is needed.
The thinking behind the first is that union members will not be able to sustain concerted further national strike action because they will not be prepared to make the sacrifice of losing many days' wages when striking.
But the thinking is also that multiple days of single mass strikes of old could be seen to be over because they are believed not come up to scratch when trying to force the government to perform a U-turn.
Consequently, rather than having consecutive single days of national action, November 30 would be the start of the programme of action which would be followed by selective rolling strikes thereafter on a regional or sectoral basis.
For example, hospital workers may strike for a day or for a week followed by council workers the next week or all public-sector workers would strike for a day or week in Scotland followed by those in the north-east of England and then those in the north-west of England and so on.
The thinking behind the second strategy is that once workers are out on strike, they can be convinced to stay out for a week or so in order to steadily build the pressure upon the government in a way that French workers did - and successfully so - in 1996 against Juppe's reform of pensions and benefits. This would then see a wave of mass strikes in a way we have not seen since Britain in the 1970s.
The drawback of the first strategy is that it is unlikely to build up the necessary amount of leverage against the government. The consequences of this are it may take a long, long time to achieve not a huge amount and this may undermine the willingness of workers to maintain the action or even up the ante when needed.
The long-running dispute of council workers in Southampton is something of a warning, because it used the "smart" strike strategy.
The drawback of the "All out, stay out" strategy is that it is not achievable and is more aspirational than practical.
Although more workers will strike than voted to strike come the day, the ballot turnouts so far indicate that far from all workers are straining at the leash to strike for a long period of time.
While the "All out, stay out" slogan may catch the mood of the most militant minority, it is in danger if implemented of leaving them stranded way ahead of their fellow union members.
Staying out for longer than one day would constitute unofficial and unprotected action and this could leave those strikers open to victimisation and the sack.
The suggestion of a third way revolves around recalling the 1989 local government strike by Nalgo, one of the unions that went on to constitute Unison.
Seeking a higher pay rise, the union's members went on strike for one day in the first week, two days the next and three days the following week. They were intent on going up to five days a week and then continuing on that basis.
The ratcheting up of pressure meant the employers - and government - gave in after the third week.
Much has changed since 1989 and the political situation is different from when the then Tory government was much stronger and there was growth in the economy as a result of the so-called Lawson boom, named after then Chancellor Nigel Lawson.
Nonetheless, there seems merit in exploring whether this "third way" offers a considered way of taking the situation forward.
Gregor Gall is professor of industrial relations at the University of Hertfordshire (email@example.com)
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