Are Unions unrepresetative.

  bremner 19:21 07 Sep 2012

Union membership has dropped to below 6 million for the first time since 1940 and less than half of what it was in 1980? BBC Link

I work in the public service and do not want to join a union, however any negotiation has to be through Unions and only those in Unions are permitted to vote on proposed pay awards or changes in conditions, totally undemocratic when less than 50% of our workforcecare in Unions.

Are Unions finished and if they are where does leave employment negotiations and the Labour Party.

  Picklefactory 19:34 07 Sep 2012

I've been a union member all my working life, but I still disagree with much of what goes on. Like most things in life, the situation varies, some unions or union branches have absolutely no common sense and are still militant to the extreme, other local or company branches can be very sensibly run and a great asset to both the employees AND the employers. I find it hard to defend unions, though, when I hear so many things from friends in other walks of life where it seems to be carte blanch on taking unbelievable liberties with and abusing hard won benefits that gets the total backing of local representatives. To be honest, I have no faith in my own union any more, and have long since ceased to place any faith in them actually assisting me personally, but I stay in as I still believe in the principal of a SENSIBLY run union. I think it is a combination of lack of faith in the union ideal and also employers having a wealth of foreign, contract workers available, who (In my experience) are loathe to join a union for fear of detrimental treatment from the employer.

  canarieslover 19:58 07 Sep 2012

My experience throughout my working life was that apathy was the greatest aid to unions becoming as powerful as they once were. Very few people in the workplace want the aggravation of being a Shop Steward so are quite prepared to vote for whoever is prepared to stand, in many cases someone with a leaning towards the left side of politics to say the least. Branch meetings are almost exclusively for the left wing of the union, again apathy among moderates rules. The 'closed shop' meant that, whatever your politics, if you wanted to be employed there then you had to be a union member. It still makes me laugh that union leaders can cast votes at the Labour Party Conference that are the equivalent of all their members regardless of the members politics, but MP's, who have had genuine votes cast for them at elections, are only allowed one vote. There is a good case for a responsible union but over the years there have been very few of those and in many ways unions have contributed to the loss of jobs in UK industry.

  morddwyd 22:21 07 Sep 2012

Just a word in defence of unions (bearing in mind that for most of my working life I was not allowed to belong!).

When I was in H&S I regarded the union H&S reps as very important allies, and another pair of eyes, and we worked very much as a team.

We passed information to each other on an almost daily basis, and I would often ask them to put things before the Safety Committee which I knew the managers didn't want aired!

While there were some individual claims (none successful) there was not one disputed claim for injury or compensation (GMB and EIS, neither well known for moderacy!) because of mutual co-operation.

A lot of union work is done away from the glare of publicity.

  zzzz999 04:25 08 Sep 2012

So Bremner, effectively you are getting the negotiation power and the protection of the Unions while not paying for it.

  zzzz999 04:27 08 Sep 2012

Canarieslover the two biggest closed shop unions are right wing, NFU and the BMA.

  canarieslover 08:22 08 Sep 2012


For most of my working life it was T & G. Definitely left leaning but now merged and in decline.

  bremner 08:28 08 Sep 2012


I get no direct protection from any union, my protection comes from employment legislation. Of course there is an argument that unions have fought for and too keep those protections, something they are increasingly failing to do as both Labour and Tory governments reaise they are unrepresentative. The same legislation currently only allows my employer to negotiate pay deals with unions, something I have, with many others, are fighting against.

30+ years ago I was the local union rep on a workers/employers council, I became totally disillusioned with the way mine and most other unions were being run and left, as 6 million others have done since 1980.

Employment legislation must change to reflect that most workers are not in Unions, giving all workers the right to vote for changes in their terms and conditions and not just minority union members.

  canarieslover 19:58 10 Sep 2012

Despite the fact that the unions are losing members at such a fast rate I see that they are now threatening to call a General Strike. One thing I did learn while I was in industry was that the one thing that followed a strike was that the employer started looking for alternatives, either by moving abroad or negotiating local productivity agreements. The end result was always the same, jobs would disappear or go to people working on temporary or short term contracts. And this was if we won the strike!! How is that bed of strike action, Fleet Street, today, well the street is still there but there isn't a great deal of printing industry left. That other great strike area, the motor industry, moved so many jobs abroad that there is only a small percentage of what was there in the 60's and 70's though in recent years it has been boosted by Japanese manufacturers who insist on a different relationship with their workforce. When will they ever learn that co-operation gets you much further than confrontation??

  Bing.alau 21:07 10 Sep 2012

I have one thing to say about the union I once belonged to. It did me a favour. As a serviceman you couldn't join a union until you were within the last six months of your service. So when I had six months to do I joined the Typographical Association so I could work in the printing industry on my discharge.

When I was on my last couple of weeks in the forces I attended an interview for, and got a job in a well known printers in Liverpool, my home town and where my wife wanted to move back to. On the way out of the office I was met by a lot of muttering and noises about being in the chapel, I thought to myself "That's not the type of people I want to work with, there were no signs of being welcome, far from it in fact". So on getting home and telling my wife I had got the job, she said "I can see by your face that you aren't happy about it" and she asked me why? I told her and she said "Then why don't you stay in the Marines?" So I did and it was the most sensible decision my wife and I made in our lives. We had another ten years doing things we both liked doing. So Thank You the Typographical Association.

  rickf 21:21 10 Sep 2012

Rickscafe makes valid points. Prior to leaving my job at london uni. I was discrminated, the details I leave out here. Had it not been for union rep who was very thorough and fair in his investigation of my claims and representing me I would have been forced into accepting an unfair set of conditions to continue working. I would not want to be under the mercy and whims of my employer.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

OnePlus 5 review

Alice Saey's mesmerising animation for Dutch singer Mark Lotterman

iPad Pro 10.5in (2017) review

Comment booster votre iPhone ?