Friday, 19 November 2010

Unions Need to Show Members Respect

Many are unduly cynical about the trade union movement, jumping to the immediate assumption that unions are nothing more than a campaigning arm of the Labour party, yet there is so much more to the work of trade unions. Of course, the Labour party was born from the movement and that link should be understood and respected. Neither should we ignore the many policy principles that the trade unions have made part of our everyday lives, including several Plaid policies.

You would expect me to say all these things as the Secretary of the party's trade union section Undeb and an active trade unionist for over 20 years, yet there is a dark side. It has been seen in the last few months in Wales, when two Councils chose to serve notice on all their staff, as a crude and unjustified tool to put pressure on trade union negotiators during bargaining on cuts. These two Councils have two things in common: -

  • They are both Labour controlled
  • Neither has been publicly criticised by the trade unions (apart from the GMB branch in RCT)

If a Plaid Cymru controlled Council had taken this action, there would justifiably be wall to wall criticism from the union leaders and I would join in that criticism but for Labour-absolute silence. The unions themselves are indeed affiliated to Labour but this is an issue for the affiliated sections and not the unions as a whole, yet where is the differentiation between the two?

This appalling example of double standards has made me seriously question my future involvement in the trade union movement, as why should I support an organisation that not only acts partially, but appears not to even care about being seen doing so. There are individuals within the trade union movement who see their role as nothing more than a stooge for Labour, whatever the needs of their union members and until such time as the unions refuse to appoint such dinosaurs, their position will always be compromised.

No comments:

Post a Comment