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Union power

(92 Posts)
Anniebach Sat 09-Feb-19 13:50:02

As unions are brought up on most threads isn’t it fair they should have a ‘union thread ‘

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 16:40:18

I have not critcised union members , I have critcised unions having the power to control the party they are suppose to support, big difference between supporting and controlling

Anja Sun 10-Feb-19 16:10:03

I’ve only skimmed this thread so apologise if I’ve missed something but has anyone every been a Union Rep. More to the point has anyone every been a Rep in a crisis?

I was Union Rep for the NUT then later for NAEIAC for many years. I don’t recognise many of the accusations thrown at unions and their members in this thread. I do however acknowledge that some unions are or were dominated by hardliners due to the general apathy of their members. No one wanted the job usually so often that left the door open to those who saw a way to have their own little bit of power.

I met this type when my union needed to negotiate with management over redundancies and working conditions and it would have made sense for us to work with other unions. The Rep for UNITE wasn’t interested in cooperation or even getting the best deal for his members he was on a power high.

These are the types who get elected when ordinary members don’t take sufficient interest and a part in the running of their unions.

Unions are essential IMO, but so must their members be prepared to stand up and be counted and take on responsibility.

MaizieD Sun 10-Feb-19 15:48:22

Oh, do stop yapping at me you two.

I didn't say that it didn't happen and I even posted part of an article about it. The 'myth' is that it was a lot worse than it actually was. Which I have also said but it has been ignored.

Yes, I remember the coal strike, the 3 day week, the OPEC price increase for oil (driving down the M1 at 50mph), and the 'winter of discontent'. I also remember the dockers strike (except that was the 60s, sugar shortages, salt shortages, toilet paper shortages. Also the city where I lived grinding to a halt when it snowed and admonitions to share a shower or bath in the summer of '75. Perhaps you'd like to blame the unions for them, too..

I repeat part of the article I posted earlier. Please note the bit in bold:

Despite this, the legend of the winter of discontent is now set in stone, impervious even to the admission of Derek Jameson, editor of the Daily Express in 1979, that: " We pulled every dirty trick in the book. We made it look like it was general, universal and eternal, whereas it was in reality scattered, here and there, and no great problem .”

There could have been a better debate about the purpose of unions and how an equitable society is achieved. It is noticeable that the end result of 'taming the unions' seems to have led to a widening inequality gap, high levels of poverty and concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer people. Not to mention zero hours contracts, the gig economy and much more insecurity for many people in work.

I apologise if people were trying to get round to that and I've derailed the thread sad

POGS Sun 10-Feb-19 14:48:07

Or Maizie d you have a selective memory !

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 14:17:46

So no power cuts Maisie, ? No knowledge of Callaghan losing the election 1979 and Thatcher moving into No 10, no knowledge of the disasterous 1983 election

MaizieD Sun 10-Feb-19 14:13:07

You certainly hold a vision of the 70's/80's and Union activity in a different light to my recollection of that period of UK history.

Maybe I just read the wrong papers and lived in the wrong city, POGS

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 13:44:20

Me too Oldwoman I come from five generations of coal miners, my great grandfather was a close friend of Keir Hardie, I have letters to prove the close friendship.

Hardie who was MP for my home town would never have remained silent when the unions robbed my grieving community and kept the man who could have prevented the deaths of 128 people in his post .

unions with so much power they controlled a labour government at that time.

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 13:28:55

What I don’t understand is anyone saying of those strikes ‘ it didn’t affect me ‘. The unburied dead in Liverpool affected me in South Wales,

POGS Sun 10-Feb-19 13:23:32

I have a similar background story Old woman and others too.

Oldwoman70 Sun 10-Feb-19 12:29:30

I was raised in a socialist household, my father was a union activist and in elections went door to door campaigning for the Labour party. Prior to his death he told me he no longer recognised the union he fought hard for, he believed the people who began the unions would be turning in their graves if they knew how the current union leaders seemed to be more interested in gaining personal power and lining their own pockets.

POGS Sun 10-Feb-19 12:10:00

Maizie d

You certainly hold a vision of the 70's/80's and Union activity in a different light to my recollection of that period of UK history.

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 11:10:55

And I am not trying to prove you said the strikes were a myth, read your post again.

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 11:09:53

Maisie you said the strikes were a myth, you then said they were exaggerated by the press,

If something is as myth it didn’t happen , why can’t you say you were wrong in dismissing them as a myth .

You refuse to accept the number of strikes and the unofficial strikes gave us years of Thatcher, this was gave workers a share in the National prosperity?

MaizieD Sun 10-Feb-19 10:55:04

Oh, FGS, annie. The 'myth' relates to the widespread publicity for what were, in effect, very far from widespread effects. The one's that are always quoted as if the unions were responsible for nationwide horrors. they weren't. It was inconvenient but not universally horrific.

You're not scoring any points by trying to prove that I said it never happened.

I have always found it extraordinary that people are perfectly happy to be 'ruled' by the well off and the rich but find it horrific that the workers on whom the country depends for its smooth running ( as the 1970s strikes demonstrated), and who are the source of its wealth, should want to share in the national prosperity. And heaven help them if they should think they should have a say in how the country is run.

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 10:36:14


POGS Sun 10-Feb-19 10:30:34


" All any member has to do if that person does not like any policy of the Union is to put themselves forward for election to the various committees or conferences that make up the unions structure and fight for change. If enough other members then agree with their views, on ballot the policies will change. "

Like Gerard Coyne tried to do when he stood against Len McClusky for the Leadership of UNITE?

Gerard Coyne was booted out of UNITE after 28 years of service / membership.

Now I know you will come back with he was found guilty of misuse of Labour data but it was widely thought the ' Power ' behind McCluskey turned it into a case of '. attack the man not the ball '.

It takes a strong man/woman to go against, even speak against ' The Establishment ' behind many Unions and probably a loosing battle .

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 10:29:49

My community was betrayed by the unions , they certaintly smashed the few for the many .

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 10:26:32

PECS not to the extent of the strikes in 1979 which gave us Thatcher, not pickets at entrances to hospitals , not unofficial strikes such as the grave diggers strike.

And not the miners strike in 1984 - 1985, where there was no
National strike ballot so kept miners in the midlands in work whilst here in South Wales we suffered so much, homes lost, families broken up , soup kitchens and helped to keep Thatcher in power .

Eloethan Sun 10-Feb-19 10:23:27

In my view, it's a union's job to get better conditions for its members and when unions are dealing with unreasonable and intransigent employers it will be inevitable that a degree of conflict will arise.

To imagine that such issues will not have a political dimension is, in my opinion, rather naive. The fact that the Conservative party receives the largest proportion of its funds from wealthy individuals, hedge funds and multinational businesses means that these are the organisations and people whose interests are more likely to be represented by that party.

Unions do hold a certain amount of sway with the Labour party but individual membership fees also make up a substantial proportion of their funds.

If unions are so powerful, how is it that average wages are reported to have either stagnated or fallen whereas the incomes and salaries of the wealthy and super rich have rocketed?

People are often critical unions until they need them, at which time they suddenly decide to join and get some sort of representation and protection for themselves.

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 10:06:20

Maisie but how did you see photographs of what you have declared was a myth fed to us by the press

PECS Sun 10-Feb-19 09:59:06

Annie did you think the workers were wrong to strike?

MaizieD Sun 10-Feb-19 09:57:48

I'm behind you PECS and admire your patience.

You were in London? Where rubbish did indeed pile up in the streets. We all saw the press photos. But it didn't happen everywhere. The effects were exaggerated in the press. The gravediggers were on strike in Liverpool, not all over the UK.

Anniebach Sun 10-Feb-19 09:54:08

Neither do I PECS

PECS Sun 10-Feb-19 09:22:12

annie I don't change my principles just because I am in a minority.

PECS Sun 10-Feb-19 09:20:23

Yes of course they happened but No.. I was in London confused