UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A reactionary analysis of Trade Unions

The Fabian Society pamphlet 'The Economic Alternative' contains an analysis of trade unions that is so divorced from reality that Liberal Conspiracy author Sunny Hundal really ought to go back to his economics and social studies classes.  http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/02/21/unions-can-only-resist-the-cuts-if-they-become-broader-and-modernise/

He cites 3 reasons why the unions have in his view become more and more irrelevant as if it was a failing on our part that we don't understand the wonderful wisdom of the 'centrist', so called 'modernist' politicians.

Firstly he states that there is no such thing as 'a job for life' and young people are 'comfortable' with that. What nonsense, how many of us who know, live and work with young people think that they are 'comfortable' with low paid temporary jobs? Is that really the reason they don't join unions?

Secondly, the rise of self employment Hundal presents as an unavoidable sign of progress (he worked in IT and he wanted to be 'his own boss') rather than the obvious route for unchallenged employers to casualise their workforce and cut the costs of employing people. How many of the hundreds of thousands of care workers on miserable pay and classed as 'self employed' recognise themselves as the thrusting middle class graduate that is Sunny Hundal and his mates?

Lastly we are, apparently, too focused on the 'public sector'. It's so lazy to put this one forward. Unions are stronger in the public sector - but that is to the cost of private sector workers, many of whom wish to be in unions on public sector wages because they can't afford to feed their families on what the private sector offers - unless a strong union is in their workplace. At last a kernel of truth - the movement would be a lot stronger if we were as organised in the private sector.

But abandoning the public sector doesn't really represent a wise move forward. And in his critique of the union's failed agency in the private sector, Hundal omits to acknowledge the hostility of companies to unions - yesterday's announcement by defence contractor Qinetic of its intention to derecognise unions being a case in point: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/359de6e0-5cb7-11e1-8f1f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1n5swqiRW

At heart Hundal and his like wish we would accept that only 'progressives' like him and their 'sympathy' can rescue us from our own stupidity. We cannot afford their sympathy or to wait for their 'progressive' politics. We are organising now. He needs a new telescope labelled 'look through the correct end'.