FORTROSE -- Stuart Stewart, 57, of Station Crescent, has been out of work since leaving his job as a barman at the Culbokie Inn in 2019. But that is not keeping him from staging solo industrial action later this month.
"I was thinking about starting this Wednesday," he said, "but that's my day at Jobseekers and I kind of forget what I told them last week about not coming in and don't want them getting all suspicious and thinking I'm a skivver, like."
He told us that the new course of action will be to walk a picket line every Monday night from his back garden to the front kerb and back, whilst putting his bins out for collection. But even this carefully-conceived plan has recently been thrust into turmoil. "Aye, I had it all sorted and then the bin men from the [Highland] Council went on strike so there was no use putting the bins out," he explained. "I had a sign and everything."
The sign in question was made from a flattened Tunnock's Tea Cake box and read simply, "Unfair". When pressed for details, Stewart admitted that since he was unemployed and receiving state benefits, he couldn't legitimately complain about wages or working conditions, universally acknowledged as the most-popular reasons to strike.
"Aye, well I reckon it's unfair that everybody else gets to go on strike but just because I'm between jobs, the option has been taken away from me. So I'm going on strike to balance the scales."
"Psychologically speaking," said Iain Malarkee, 74, of Feddon Hill, "strike action and suicide attempts are closely related." He went on to clarify this controversial theory while carefully calculating the weekly decrease in empty space in each of his neighbours' wheelie bins. "They both show a deep-rooted discontent with personal circumstances that develops into a single-mindedness that justifies the act regardless of the long-term negative effect it may have on others."
Indeed, many Fortrose businesses have suffered as English holidaymakers cancel their travel plans due to transport strikes. Crick Jamieson, in his new post as Assistant Night Inventory Manager at the Co-Op, had this to say: "We stocked our shelves in anticipation of the usual influx of late-summer English visitors, but now we've had to resort to offering multi-buys on everything from denture cream to copies of The Sun."
We asked Stewart how being on strike would change his immediate plans. "For one thing, I won't be putting out the bins of a Monday night cos the bin men are on strike. And I guess I'll have to wait a few days for my benefits cheque cos the posties are on strike. Which gums up my plans to go to the footie in Sheffield with my mate from Glasgow, Squidgie, cos the trains are on strike. And besides, Squidgie's got to look after his kid cos the nursery's on strike. So, I guess I'll be staying at home and catching up on a little Antiques Road Trip. I really like that Scottish lassie on the show. She she tells it like it is and really knows the value of a pound, like."
This story contains additional reporting by Jess Anderson