So I wonder which union this is?

I have been a lefty for as long as I have understood about politics and was delighted when I got a job at a trade union, helping out in the membership department. It was a chance for me to join the cause, promote workers’ rights, do my bit to get Labour back in power and eat hummus and pitta bread with intelligent staff who enlighten me with their deeply thought-out political theories.

The reality is somewhat different. There are too many opinions, too many discussions and not enough decision makers – but I guess that’s socialism for you. Weak management means there is a complete lack of consistency among staff: everyone seems to be working on their own pet project rather than doing anything together as a team. No sooner are ideas implemented than they are cast aside again – often the same day. Our crumbling membership, which sees us lose many members every month, never gets addressed – no wonder striking is at its lowest level since records began. Strong personalities are allowed to get their own way and, quite often, their own working hours.

37 thoughts on “So I wonder which union this is?”

  1. Off topic etc.

    Is there a version of Godwin’s Law about the tendency of internet threads do be derailed by lowlifes commenting “I find x, y or z to be offensive”?

    Do we need one?

  2. “That’s socialism” says the puke who wrote the crap article.

    No –150 million dead and the lives of hundreds of millions more ruined–that is fucking socialism.

    May he and Corbyn end up with the red flag as their shroud.

    A red flag with “SCUM” written on it in big gold letters.

  3. “no wonder striking is at its lowest level since records began”

    Even in a tell all (except for his name or that of his employer, of course, gutless cunt) expose, he still manages to miss the entire fucking point. Since when were ‘number of strikes organised’ a KPI?

  4. @LTW, but strikes are a good in and of themselves, cos they’re sticking it to the Tory Scum and all that.

    The fact that people aren’t striking since things are going better is just neoliberal sophistry, to coin a phrase…

  5. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Shockingly, it’s an easy life working for the sort of people who think train drivers shouldn’t be pushing a button to open doors when they’ve got fuck all else to do.

  6. Ecks, anyone with half a brain realises that the disfunction described only gets worse when you add in more power.

    Give a shower like that access to the levers of power, watch how long it takes for one of the ‘strong personalities’ to decide the top job gets the most toys, push past ‘weak management’ without breaking a sweat and start purging to secure their position.

  7. We have too many old members. They like to fill out forms

    So probably a blue-collar union.

    When potential members ask me why they should join, I give them the usual spiel but what I’m really thinking is: “Join our rivals, they are cheaper and care more about you than we do.”

    So not specific to a single trade.

  8. “… and eat hummus and pitta bread with intelligent staff who enlighten me with their deeply thought-out political theories.”

    Yeah, right.

  9. Ecksy: A red flag with “SCUM” written on it in big gold letters.

    Ah, the Subversive Communist Union of Militants?

  10. The problem that unions have is that the job market is massively different to what it was 30 years ago. People have more choice than simply working at the local widget factory or down the mine like everyone else on their street, so if a workplace is crap they simply bugger off to somewhere better.

    Most folks understand that 70s style workplace militancy will probably most likely cost them their job when the firm folds, hence why most union activism is in public/civil service and railways where the bottomless pit of other folks’ money can cover everything.

  11. @Rhyds,

    Indeed. Since a greater proportion of the population work in the private sector now, since the great nationalised industries have gone, they understand that (within reason) what’s good for their employer is good for them.

    Plus, the labour mobility thing is a good point – most people have access to a car now, so can find a job further afield, or are prepared to move to follow the job they want to do.

  12. And as for the article more generally, its pretty obvious why Trade Unions are stuffed full of old geezers in upper positions. It seems that pretty much any trade union employee with a sense of ambition wants to be a Labour MP, so you end up with the cream of the crop over at Millbank.

    Of course “cream” is a relative concept, as the standard of your average Labour party staffer shows.

  13. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Rhyds,

    Unions were once useful for the workers. It’s why they were created. But, yes, it was in the times when it was hard for people to go elsewhere. On the flipside, it was hard for employers to replace people or outsource production. So, the strike was a powerful way to make get good conditions.

    But yes, motor car ownership rises in the 70s, and people can just change jobs if they don’t like it.

    The trouble with most Labour people is that they don’t get this. Most of them have no experience outside the public sector or trade unions or highly regulated industries like law.

  14. @abacab

    That’s pretty much it. The only folks I know who are union members these days work in education and youth work, with many seeing it not as a political statement, but as a sort of insurance policy against malicious claims of child abuse.

  15. @BiW

    Yes, most lefties don’t realise that your average voter sees a strike not as the brave downtrodden proletariat standing up to the excesses of vile management, but rather as militant troublemakers out to feather their own nests while causing them as much inconvenience as possible.

  16. “Of course “cream” is a relative concept, as the standard of your average Labour party staffer shows”

    Scum floats to the top too………………….

  17. Rhyds said:
    “People have more choice than simply working at the local widget factory or down the mine like everyone else on their street, so if a workplace is crap they simply bugger off to somewhere better.”

    One problem with the public sector is that they are almost monopolies, with standardised terms and conditions. So if you’re a teacher or a nurse, you don’t have the variety of employers that private sector workers have.

    This means that joining a union becomes more important, so of course the unions love standardised employment terms, pay scales, etc., even though it’s actually bad for most of their members.

  18. Given that the government mandates many of the former core union goals(minimum wage, overtime, workplace safety, …) it is hard to know why anyone thinks unions do much good today. My time at a union job was spent watching the union reps argue over trivial matters. There just aren’t the same important issues the unions fought from a century ago.

  19. if you’re a teacher or a nurse, you don’t have the variety of employers that private sector workers have

    Plenty of private sector jobs in education. But you have to be a good teacher with a good degree from a good university in the subject you want to teach, which rules out many in the public sector.

  20. The RMT goes on strike and the locals using the services notice.
    Local council workers or civil servants in some department goes on strike – would you notice if the press didn’t mention it?
    Back when I was in the civil service there were a number of strikes over the years. One was regarding the disbanding of the typing pool.
    This was in the mid 90s – PCs were making their position felt in civil service offices though I didn’t have access to one.
    A hundred people in my office, I can think of just 3 of us who used the typing pool.
    Typing pool was going to be disbanded so of course union organised a strike. There was a picket line. What was the result? The typing pool disbanded.
    Photocopying section (repo section) put out to private tender? Strike. Result? Each room given a copier and could send out to private company for non copier stuff.
    Pay rise one year of just over 2%. Strike. Result? Pay rise just over 2% given.

    Not sure the unions have figured out that strikes are not the answer to all problems. Even when the results show they aren’t the answer.

  21. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The taxi drivers here are on strike protesting about Uber. The main reaction of the 99.9997% of the population who are not taxi drivers is they’re selfish fucks and should all be boiled in a sack. Uber is offering rides all day at a flat rate of about $1.80, which is stunningly good PR. People are saying they will be using only Uber for the next month to show the taxi drivers what a bunch of twats they are. Talk about stepping on your own dick. Now if only there were an alternative to the trains for most current users, then the RMT could be safely smashed.

  22. @Richard

    Yes many public sector services are near monopolies, but there can still be competition for employees. In health for example many nurses will work for agencies who offer more flexible pay and conditions than working for the NHS directly.

    In fact, train drivers have made a packet from this competition, as the RMT has spent years playing train operating companies off against each other over pay and conditions. Oddly though the RMT’s stated position is to bin all that off and go back to nationalisation and one assumes one big national pay demand…

  23. People are saying they will be using only Uber for the next month to show the taxi drivers what a bunch of twats they are.

    Like we did in France before the government banned Uber.

  24. So rather than compete with Uber on things that matter like price, service, friendliness etc the taxi drivers are withdrawing their service leaving their competition to gain a larger slice of the consumer market?

    Is it just me or does that come across as a really really bad business decision for the taxi drivers?

  25. “One problem with the public sector is that they are almost monopolies, with standardised terms and conditions. So if you’re a teacher or a nurse, you don’t have the variety of employers that private sector workers have.”

    The NUT moans about teachers’ pay and conditions while militantly lobbiying for a monopsony in education. You don’t have to be mad to work there but it helps.

  26. @Martin

    I remember reading once that there was a strike at (I think) Peugeot’s Ryton (Coventry) plant after Peugeot took the decision to close the plant.

    How striking was going to change a decision like that was beyond my comprehension…

  27. Funnily enough ialso t reminds me of ecru government organisation i have worked with or for.
    Perhaps the unions whole think about other organisations who have broadly achieved their demands, the chartist maybe

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