Trade Unions - For or Against?


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Profile Chris SProject donor
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Message 1242730 - Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 11:38:24 UTC

Do you want to start this one off Sirius?


Sirius B
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Message 1242735 - Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 11:58:37 UTC - in response to Message 1242730.

Do you want to start this one off Sirius?



Yes, thanks Chris.

For the past decade or more I have been against unions & this is extremely hard for me to accept as I was a Shop Steward while on the railways.

I had more arguments within the union than with management, due to the "stupid" reasoning behind the calling of some BUT not all strikes. I had gained the respect of the management (divisional) & they knew that whenever a serious issue cropped up, I spoke to them 1st to give them the opportunity to investigaste the issue & if correct, attempt to resolve it without the need to escalate it to both senior management & union HQ.

Most of the time, matters were resolved amicably, thank goodness as I remember numerous strikes throughout the 1970's & many were indeed, pointless - just the unions flexing their "power".

When "Maggie" got in, that flexing is what got them negated & many like myself warned them of this, but we were ignored.

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Message 1242736 - Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 12:03:10 UTC - in response to Message 1242735.

Cont'd

However, from experience, I often found that most issues were mainly resolved at the local level with some that actually benefited the whole company.

The problem was & still is (for example, take the Fire Brigade union & it's head - urging members to strike & at the same time, he used union funds to claim for business lunches with some of those totalling £6k & more - & some were proved to be non-union business meetings - Ooops), the union chiefs flexing their "muscles" when there really is no need for that.

However, with the world's economy tanking & the ideas being bandied about by politicians, unions need to stop this "flexing" & return to the values that made them powerful in the 1st place.
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Message 1242743 - Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 12:41:42 UTC

I to have a divided feeling on Unions. This after me having been in one for two days short of 24 years. The shop that we had needed a union as all of upper manangement right from foreman to company president were constantly breaking the agreement that they helped negotioate. Yes the union did keep a lot of deadwood from being fired, but they also saved jobs for people who were not liked or not the foremans pet bootlicker.

The place I work at now is non union. While things are not perfect, At least management does treat people mostly fairly. They just dont want to pay a lot.


The thing that got my goat the most is the Us versus Them attitude that prevailed on boths sides of the table. Seems to me that they could work out a fair and equitable deal for all partys with out all the name calling and threats by both sides.
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Message 1242744 - Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 12:47:06 UTC - in response to Message 1242743.

I to have a divided feeling on Unions. This after me having been in one for two days short of 24 years. The shop that we had needed a union as all of upper manangement right from foreman to company president were constantly breaking the agreement that they helped negotioate. Yes the union did keep a lot of deadwood from being fired, but they also saved jobs for people who were not liked or not the foremans pet bootlicker.

The place I work at now is non union. While things are not perfect, At least management does treat people mostly fairly. They just dont want to pay a lot.


The thing that got my goat the most is the Us versus Them attitude that prevailed on boths sides of the table. Seems to me that they could work out a fair and equitable deal for all partys with out all the name calling and threats by both sides.


Exactly! This is where I had problems every time I had to attend either regional or HQ meetings. It was plainly obvious that the "leaders" were only out to "stuff" the management or their own ends.

For the past 2 decades, we have been seeing this more & more with the membership getting "stuffed" from both sides.
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Message 1242746 - Posted: 7 Jun 2012, 12:54:16 UTC

I've been a member of the following: -

Sogat (newsprint)
NUR (Rail)
ASLEF (Rail)
UCW (Royal Mail)
Unison (NHS)
T&GWU (Road Transport - still current)

What killed unions for me was Unison, what I seen & heard was unbelievable - many of us complained but got told to shut up or we'll be kicked out of the union - some regional Shop Stewards even told us that they would make our life hell if that happened.

Now look at the NHS - Most support services are contracted out & look at the headlines for the past decade or so where they are involved & the union?

HAHAHAHA, what union?
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Message 1243189 - Posted: 8 Jun 2012, 5:57:22 UTC
Last modified: 8 Jun 2012, 5:58:01 UTC

I like the idea of unions. I've never been in one, the place I work at would close its doors at the first hint of a union...

My issue with unions typically is people getting paid decent money to do, well, nothing.

Too many times in my day I've been in union shops, visiting, or subcontracting (man do union shops love subcontractors... :-D), and there are guys that either stand around all day, or sit on little carts driving around all day, and do NOTHING. That's a problem for the economy, and that's a problem I have with modern unions.

Unions are meant to protect workers and look out for them, and provide fair wages. They are not meant solely to provide cushy overpaying jobs for people to suck the life out of a company, or government, as is now the more common place for unions in modern America.
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Message 1243241 - Posted: 8 Jun 2012, 9:21:06 UTC

I have belonged to

POEU
SPOE
STE
Connect
Prospect(Current retired member)

In the late 1970's I marched from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner with the POEU for a days action "All out for 35" to reduce working hours. I still have the tee shirt somewhere! Later in the mid 1980's we had a days strike on pay and we all hot letters from Personnel and the Union saying we had to either strike or work, we could not take Annual Leave in lieu. No way was I losing a days pay, and no way was I crossing a picket line, so I wrote back to both and said I was taking leave regardless, whether they liked it or not. I took the AL and never heard any more about it.

Unions are essential for collective bargaining for a workforce, and they are also essential to monitor Health & Safety issues for their Members. One further positive I found was the Union death in service gratuity, which was cheaper than buying commercial life assurance for the same amount and monthly cost. Most Unions also provide free legal advice, bereavement counselling, and a hardship fund.

The downside is that the leaders always feel that they have to justify their position now and again, else people start saying what do they do for us, what are we paying our dues for? Some are also dinosaurs that live in the past. Arthur Scargill finished off the Miners Union because he wouldn't accept that uneconomic pits had to close. These days some are re-opening due to modern technology making them viable again. Fleet Street was a closed shop with the newspapers at the total mercy of the print unions and chapels, which struck at the drop of a hat.

I still remember Eddy Shah's strike, and the Wapping dispute which were both marred by violence. The Ford Unions at Dagenham ended up killing off their own factory by their continuous industrial action. Ford USA shut it down, and it now only makes engines.

Unions should not be able to hold the country to ransom by controlling and withdrawing important public services. Names that come to mind are Bob Crow and the RMT, Matt Rack of the FBU, and the Petrol delivery drivers who recently threatened to cause so much trouble. I believe current employment legislation outlaws closed shops, and also protects workers from being sacked if they join a union. But I could be wrong if someone knows any different.

The stranglehold that the British Trade Unions held up until the mid 80's has mainly gone thanks to the Thatcher Government of the time for standing up to them. The principle of Unions is a good one, providing it isn't abused.

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Message 1243257 - Posted: 8 Jun 2012, 10:20:38 UTC - in response to Message 1243241.

You forgot to mention the docks strike in the early 70's that virtually killed the UK's position as the distribution docks for northern Europe and handed it to Antwerp.

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Message 1243269 - Posted: 8 Jun 2012, 11:25:22 UTC
Last modified: 8 Jun 2012, 11:27:36 UTC

There were many more others, perhaps one of the nastiest was the 1976-78 Grunwick dispute. Grunwick

When you look back over the last 50 years the Unions have generally lost more than they won, but employee safety has increased significantly. The bottom line is that Unions have a important part to play in modern commercial and industrial society. We don't now have the sort of employers that the Tolpuddle Martyrs fought against in their day.

What is very worrying is the number of Unions that are constantly amalgamating with each other, to form even bigger Unions. How long will it be before a single militant Union can call out 75% of the workers on a general strike, paralysing the country?

Could we legislate against that?
Should we legislate against that?
Would any such legislation work?

Answers on a postcard to

Chris S
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Message 1243293 - Posted: 8 Jun 2012, 13:52:40 UTC - in response to Message 1243241.

Ecellent. Totally agree.
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Message 1243481 - Posted: 8 Jun 2012, 20:22:25 UTC

Why I was glad to get out of Unison......

Famous 3 Monkeys
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Message 1243895 - Posted: 9 Jun 2012, 9:13:10 UTC

I am sure that many people could relate horror stories similar to Mark's ones. But to be fair, there have also been many lapses of management responsibility in the past leading to serious injuries and deaths in the workforce.

I think that all sides need to re-evaluate where they stand. Of course there was a time when employers cut corners on safety, operated too long working hours, and paid peanut wages, but that was probably more relevant prior to WWII.

A landmark UK Union agreement in the 1960's was probably the "Fawley Blue Book". The Fawley agreements have been widely quoted in management, right-wing Labour, and union Circles, as the most significant breakthrough in industrial relations since the war. I lerarnt about that in my management studies in the early 80's. Fawley

These days, a savvy management will work hand in hand with the Unions to achieve a happy workforce, leading to less risk of industrial action. And if they are really smart, they will pay tribute to Union leaders for playing a meaningful part in acheieving acceptable pay and conditions. We all have to work together for the common good, and it CAN be done.

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Message 1244085 - Posted: 9 Jun 2012, 19:59:43 UTC

On reading this, I thought for a brief moment I was still employed by London Transport & the year is 1975......

London bus drivers vote for strike - they want £500($750) just for turning up to work

Emmm.sorry, you're contracted to work shifts & if those shifts on your duty rosta's have you working during those "peak" Olympic times, I'm afraid it's a TS situation, so do the job you're being paid to do!
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Message 1244197 - Posted: 10 Jun 2012, 0:24:19 UTC

I'm for unions only if I can be President or treasurer.
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Message 1244240 - Posted: 10 Jun 2012, 3:53:24 UTC - in response to Message 1244235.

I'm for unions only if I can be President or treasurer.

Uhh....
Folks are just now waking up to the fact that they are the only winners.
Or the real loooooooosers.

Now that Wisonsin's reforms are real, union membership is dropping like rats from it's sinking ship.
You now have to opt IN to pay union dues.
They can no longer just extort them from you.

And folks are finding that they just don't wanna pay the 'big man' anymore.

But this^ isn't really a "good" thing. Soon they wont be able to opt-in even if they wanted to or need to...
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