Monday, 7 June 2010

The One That's Glad He Isn't A Member. . .

I believe that unions are very important. When well managed and run they can head problems twixt the office and the shop floor before they even take hold.

Unfortunately, there's a section of unionism who exist to do nothing but it stick it to the disgusting capitalist pigs, who no doubt throw fallen women from their sports cars whilst they doff their top hats at their counterparts in other industries and cackle and twirl their moustaches.

Today's speech from Cameron will no doubt bring the militant unionists to the fore, and I'm fairly certain there's going to be strife in the public sector. There are some very militant people in public sector unions. I saw the election list for the recent PCS elections and they should have come with their own revision notes. There were thousands of people from units and departments I've never heard of and will never understand what they do.

The public sector is bloody huge. As detailed previously, the axe is bound to fall near me, perhaps even on me. I'll have to make sure I'm worth my money, or I'll have to deal with the consequences. The axe has got to fall. No matter how well argued the points, no matter how compelling the cases, the fact is we do not have any money. Unions have to accept this point, otherwise the BA example will be followed.

Speaking of which, isn't it odd how quiet Unite have been over the strikes? Nothing on the news, no delays, obviously BA aren't going to shout about the passenger numbers they've lost, but you can bet Unite wanted people queueing out of the door at Terminal 5, going feral and eating pigeons, it hasn't happened. Bad news for Unite and their members. Management at BA will not take long to join the dots.

With so many staff out and a functioning if not comprehensive operation running, BA management will start to re-examine their staffing levels.

This is the danger with strike action. I absolutely, and without reservation, support the right for employees to unionise and to go out on strike. The problem with strike action is that it is rather a blunt instrument, and unions, and more importantly their membership, have to take care that going out doesn't undermine their own position. It's a minefield, and one that has to be negotiated with great caution. To say that 'when a strike goes ahead both sides lose' may be a cliche, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

The problem, certainly in my workplace, is that some union officials agitate for strike action, they try to lead their members rather than be led by them, or at least attempt to amplify the feelings of the staff.

The danger comes when the union officials start to treat the organisation as their own fiefdom. The NUM is a prime example, not belonging was not a realistic option and the behaviour of the officials was questionable at best.

The miners' strike was the daddy of industrial strife in my lifetime, I'm not about to get involved in the politics of the situation, it is Israel vs Palestine, Unionist against Nationalist, far too big a subject to cover here. However I will say this, I remember a conflict which ceased to be about the miners fighting for their jobs, and became a story of Scargill vs. Thatcher. It became about the union's officials rather than the union's members.

And then today we see news that since his retirement in 2002, Scargill has been living in a flat in the Barbican, paid for by the members of his former union. I don't know what the membership of the NUM was at the height of the strike, but by their own admission;

there are 9 collieries left with only 3,000 miners.

Is it really right to have what is now a small union keeping their former puppet master in this fashion?

This is where my problems with the union movement lie. An organisation that is supposed to support the workers, leans on and bullies them, treats them like chattels and serfs, as much as any evil top-hatted Victorian capitalist industrialist ever did.

And all the time they're being told it is for their own good. That to me is reprehensible.

Any union that treated me like that would find themselves short of my subs in very little time.

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