Opinion – Unions – a boon or a bust?

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Unions – A boon or a bust?

I am a union man.

Yesterday I ate dinner with a man who despised unions. I listened to what he was saying and he was right but he was wrong.

There is no doubt in my mind that we need strong unions and that unions have played an immense part in bringing in social justice, health and safety and fair wages. Without them we would be held to ransom by the bosses. We would not be in the position we are now.

Our freedoms and quality of life has been well fought for.

But like all systems the unions have evolved into nonsense. Some of their practices are not only stupid but detrimental to their own members’ long-term interests.

The case for unions is simple – without proper power working conditions and wages are not protected. Corners are cut and profit is the only factor. Workers are units to be exploited. Profit is god. Unions have fought for rights of women, minorities and the disabled. They have ensured good working practice and fair wages. These were not freely given. They had to be fought for. I believe that without good unions they would be eroded. They are also there to prevent injustices against employees. People cannot be unfairly dismissed or abused. They are not alone. They have the union behind them.

The case against is powerful though.

Unions fight for their own members. It has meant that some workers are exceptionally well paid while others are exceptionally badly paid. Instead of all working people supporting one another we have the powerful unions who can cause chaos using that to their advantage while the other unions whose ability to disrupt is less get shafted. Underground train drivers will earn twice the salary of a nurse.

There is no fairness in the pay structures.

Some unions are prepared to disrupt and cause chaos to gain unreasonable rewards for their members.

There are Luddite practices where unions oppose new practices and technology on the grounds that it puts their members out of work. They negotiated silly agreements, such as in the printing press, where workers who were responsible for print setting, now replaced by computer technology, have to be employed but have no work and sit and play cards all day. They should have been retrained and reassigned.

There are restrictive practices where various trades have to sit around and wait for a plumber, electrician or builder to arrive to do their bit because nobody dare encroach into some other union man’s area.

There are the over-officious union representatives who do everything by book and oppose all change on principle.

What we need are good partnerships between management and unions. Germany seems to have a good system – partnership and representation.



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15 thoughts on “Opinion – Unions – a boon or a bust?

  1. I agree there are situations where we need Unions but have to be careful too. I know I refer to a long time ago when my Father worked for Fords, the Union there would call a strike at the drop of a hat, when it came to protecting the workers they did little. I recall going to the City every morning, getting to the rail station and there was a strike called, no fun then believe me. Thatcher did, as you know, immense damage over the Unions.

    1. Kids are having a haircut! I’ve got half an hour!
      Spot on Anna – Unions are all about balance. Sometimes they are a pain. They get too powerful. That’s why I like the German model.

      1. Don’t know much about the German model, enlighten me. How are the Children, how many have you staying, lucky you I so would love children running around here, well I have my baby “Daisy”!

      2. Children are great – two of them. A bit tiring and time consuming though. Daisy is easier I’m sure.
        The German model is a partnership – regular meetings, involvement of unions in decisions, sharing of all information – no strikes or disputes.

  2. I like the Germans always have goes back to beautiful “Auntie Jeannie” who lived next door, they do everything so perfectly. Best Hotel I ever stayed in was the one in Berlin. Germans took over the running of Fords and made the more expensive cars in Germany, took them away from Dagenham. My Father used to say the best Fords were made in Germany, and he worked for Fords from a Teenager in Cork then here.

  3. The Strawbs got it right (tho rubbish name for a band!)

    Oh, you don’t get me, I’m part of the union
    You don’t get me, I’m part of the union
    You don’t get me, I’m part of the union
    Until the day I die
    Until the day I die

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