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UK another blow to trade union/worker power

Discussion in 'General political debates' started by JOE01, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. JOE01

    JOE01Active Member Forum Member


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    Feb 6, 2011
     
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12378565

    A lot of people here probably rightly judge trade unions suspiciously; nonetheless trade unions do SOME good work in my opinion, though admittedly they have a lot of faults too.

    The Tory/coalition are out to finish the job Thatcher started, and even Thatcher didn't go this far. This idea of getting rid of flexible working hours, charging a £500 fee to bring out an employment tribunal and to rid public sector workers of collective bargaining power reeks of influence from some dodgy repressive 'undemocratic' regimes. Sadly I expect the Trade Unions Congress is going to let the Government walk all over them on this one

    I am posting this as I wonder what are people's thoughts more generally about unions and strikes and so on, it's something I am interested in anyway :ecouteurs:
     

  2. vAsSiLy77

    vAsSiLy77Experienced Member Uploader Experienced member Forum Member


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    I think it depends where you live, I'm still paying my union dues to the (too)well established DGB-union in germoney, should change to the slowly growing FAU-IWW, but they still are hardly known and have little impact, one of my mates is the lone anarcho-skin amongst them, bit complaining about their secretarianism here and there.
    Generally unionism is almost dead around here, low on numbers, not longer depending on the dues but offering a shitload of recreation and wellness programs to pay for, running an empire of advanced training and educational institutes, financed by the state and offering programs far from the actual situation on the job market.
    They are more a service bureau than a class war tool, the last strikes, labor disputes and public protests are almost forgotten by now and ended with halfhearted diplomacy and behind-the-curtain agreements...

    when i was active as a workers council member and youth representative the experience was mixed too, we could force our big buisness company to follow the agreements on the tarif agreements, but never achieved anything beyond that.
    rationalization and outsourcing, relocation of production went through without much resistance, already agreed upon in some "higher" spheres - while our colleagues lost their jobs and asked us "what the hell are you doing?"

    yes, i should change to the FAU-IWW... at least the got the more intresting monthly.
     
  3. nodz

    nodzExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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  4. JOE01

    JOE01Active Member Forum Member


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    Cheers vAsSiLy77 interesting feedback, the situation in the UK is not much different. I was a student until recently and finished off my course volunteering for a public sector union and very far removed from any 'radical' agenda, but said trade union and others in the UK do represent strong local branch activism. Some anarcho types elsewhere on the internet were slagging off that particular branch but they've been rock solid in resisting job cuts and have fought for flexibility and so on. For a number of reasons prefer to keep identities anonymous if you can understand?

    I’ve noticed people moan about unions not doing enough for them, but how much do they put in themselves is something I have noticed as a point. Yes unions are very elitist but from experience it is reasonable to suggest you can get what you put in and should never expect trade unions to work miracles, be prepared to compromise also (which can translate as ‘sell out’, sadly).

    Along the lines of something simmilar I wrote in the project I completed for the course; trade unions in Britain are often in a no win situation; the far-left or more accurately, anarchists judge them as stooges for New Labour and tools of the bosses (and there is a lot of truth in that). On the other hand unions are in for a lot of flack from government and are judged to be 'militants' (even the more moderate figures are getting it). The public at large are very apathetic and selfish about the issues. The amount of people I have met who moan when the RMT union go on strike over job losses on the London Underground are missing the point. The underground strikes do concern job losses yes, but these job losses mean passenger safety is greatly comprised, so really they are fighting for US!

    One of the biggest tragedies in recent British trade union history was the way in which the TUC were seen to totally sell out the miners in 1984. If the TUC had thrown its force behind the miners would have been a totally different outcome.Regarding the present time, the unions have now been warned to behave themselves or else when it comes to the massive public sector cuts. Within the TUC umbrella it is difficult to gage what is going to happen. There are a fair few voices in the British trade union movement who aint gonn a take this shit lieing down, but the voice of moderation is more dominant. Another thing to consider along the lines vAsSiLy77 wrote is a lot of union members are not of the left particularly (may vote Labour but that's as far as it goes) and certainly aren't anarchists, but difficult to generalise. The British trade union movement had the shit kicked out of it in the 80's it's very difficult to imagine any other outcome than shrugging the shoulders and doing as they are told, I could be wrong :ecouteurs:
     
  5. vAsSiLy77

    vAsSiLy77Experienced Member Uploader Experienced member Forum Member


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    I'm constantly harrassed by our FAU-skin to make the change and I almost agree with him that part of the problem was the ol'hierarchy and secretarianism creeping in - the german union struggles way back in the seventies were fought by leaders with roots back to the pre-war workers movement - workers taking the responsibility for their kind/class - but their successors never lost a drop of sweat in their life, while climbing the carreer ladder up and I wonder how many of them reached "equal" eye-level with their natural opponents.
    and then the service era began...
    We had this long dark (helmut) kohl-era too from 1983 - 1999 with the neo-liberals dancing:
    16 fucking years of loss of purchasing power, increasing rents, increasing unemployment, solidarity tax after they bought the reunification, finally the introduction of the euro, the far left running wild against it every time, while the social democrats turned to the "middle of the spectrum" - taking the christdemocrats place and opening the space for the green party to turn "applewise", red on the outside, with whatever beneath - bit of a critique here and there, good to keep parliamentarism running - but not a single word to raise any resistance against whats going on.
    I still think that the "german autum" 1977 and the police states reaction on the RAF did much to keep people away from the far left - while keeping inconspicuous and taking the little trinkets hardly covering the inflation from the unions completely occupied with "contributing to the overall responsibility" in the economic crisis.
    When I joined the union my colleagues asked me - why do you pay for something we get for free?
    talk about service...

    Again: I should change and get active again to revive my humble syndicalism - ok, we work over here in kinda non-hierarchical neighborhood network (besides the wage slaving), doing social care and other services to support the people in the 'hood - but I think we should not give up the working organisation and your RMT example is a fine reason why:
    The public/the people are hardly told that the strikes are for them - we had a very similiar strike in the public transport sector too - two unions competeting and getting critisized by the synchronized media for their disunity - but hardly a word about the background of the strike, which was similiar to the London Underground.
    even if many will never listen, at least a few might catch flame...
     
  6. JOE01

    JOE01Active Member Forum Member


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    Again interesting comments from you vAsSiLy77 I should really read into German trade unions at some time in my life, so much else I want to read at the moment, but as I say interesting, thanks for the insight mate
     
  7. Caps

    CapsExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Nov 3, 2010
     
    Like the NHS, the unions aren't perfect but they are better than nothing. I do not see them remotely as a tool for serious change to work environments but they have helped me out recently and are I know they increase job security and workers' cooperation. The UK people is generally very short-sighted when it comes to union action and most people will probably not have a massive problem with attacks on union rights. I certainly can't see a major uproar if laws were put in place to further restrict unions.

    The £500 fee for a tribunal is extremely disconcerting - that's the sort of shit that can intimidate workers from taking stands.
     
  8. JOE01

    JOE01Active Member Forum Member


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    Feb 6, 2011
     
    nicely put Caps
     
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