PDA

View Full Version : The Unions



sufi
01-05-2010, 02:26 PM
this made me laugh!

Over at Unison headquarters, Anita Edwards, team leader in the West Midlands equal pay unit, is making coffee in the break-out area. "Real coffee beans," she says with a smile. "Macchiato or cappuccino?"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/may/01/stefan-cross-female-pay-birmingham

amusing piece on an interesting case, which illustrates some of the reasons why the unions still seem to be losing ground after 13 years of labour...

what's your experience of the union?
mine's certainly more along the lines of this article than the traditional 'down tools all out' approach

Slothrop
18-05-2010, 09:23 AM
This BA injunction shit is absolutely ludicrous.

crackerjack
18-05-2010, 09:27 AM
This BA injunction shit is absolutely ludicrous.

yep

sufi
08-09-2010, 12:02 AM
remember, you may think that tube drivers are overpaid, but

this strike is about safety -
- cutting staff at stations by 800 & 7500 hours of opening times
- reducing the amount of maintenance checks from bi-weekly to 4 weeks
not about pay

the tories accusing rmt of political opportunism, but i'm kinda surprised (disappointed perhaps) that they havent fucked with that fat prick boris more up til now actually...

scottdisco
08-09-2010, 08:03 AM
remember, you may think that tube drivers are overpaid, but

this strike is about safety -
- cutting staff at stations by 800 & 7500 hours of opening times
- reducing the amount of maintenance checks from bi-weekly to 4 weeks
not about pay

the tories accusing rmt of political opportunism, but i'm kinda surprised (disappointed perhaps) that they havent fucked with that fat prick boris more up til now actually...

the Tories accusing RMT of political opportunism is like being lectured by Wayne Rooney on marital fidelity.

deeply heartened by John and Sufi's words on this topic.

Mr. Tea
08-09-2010, 10:31 AM
If it's legit safety concerns then obviously that's different from a standard salary gripe or a strike over someone getting sacked. I think what wound me up the most in the other thread was massrock's rather flippant "is 40,000 really that much money?" - um, yes. Yes, it is.

massrock
08-09-2010, 03:25 PM
What's flippant?

What is your basis for saying 40,000 'is a lot' of money? By what measure? Do you think it's too much? Compared to what, how much you or others might get paid? Why do you need to make this comparison? Out of a sense of 'fairness' perhaps? Or envy?

Maybe you think the tube workers should get less so that others who get a share of the same allocated pool of tokens can have more. Perhaps, but does it really work that way? I think you need to put that in a larger context and decide if the basis for the 'economy' is 'fair'. Where does the money come from, how is it allocated, where does most of it go? Where does most of it go after it's been paid to the workers? What are the mechanisms involved?

So it's a relatively decent wage, but in the context of a shitty system and all sorts of 'unfairness'. Aren't you just buying into this then and misdirecting your resentment? Crabs and barrels. Fuck it, let them get what they can, within reason, it's never going to be that much. And the main thing to realise is they're not taking anything away from you or others compared to the colossal amounts of wealth being extracted and hoarded by the actual cunts are they? You're on the same side you know.

Mr. Tea
08-09-2010, 04:31 PM
What's flippant?

What is your basis for saying 40,000 'is a lot' of money? By what measure? Do you think it's too much? Compared to what, how much you or others might get paid? Why do you need to make this comparison? Out of a sense of 'fairness' perhaps? Or envy?

Well over a billion people in the world live on less than 1% of that. How's that for "absolute terms"?



Maybe you think the tube workers should get less so that others who get a share of the same allocated pool of tokens can have more. Perhaps, but does it really work that way?

Presumably the high wages paid to tube drivers are one of the reasons it's so expensive to use. Am I missing something here? It's pretty straightforward, isn't it?



I think you need to put that in a larger context and decide if the basis for the 'economy' is 'fair'. Where does the money come from, how is it allocated, where does most of it go? Where does most of it go after it's been paid to the workers? What are the mechanisms involved?

So it's a relatively decent wage, but in the context of a shitty system and all sorts of 'unfairness'. Aren't you just buying into this then and misdirecting your resentment? Crabs and barrels. Fuck it, let them get what they can, within reason, it's never going to be that much. And the main thing to realise is they're not taking anything away from you or others compared to the colossal amounts of wealth being extracted and hoarded by the actual cunts are they? You're on the same side you know.

But that's all a much, much larger question, isn't it? If you're asking me to suggest how we go about restructuring the entire economy to make it "fairer", by whatever standards you consider fair, I'm afraid I'm not qualified to do that. Neither, I suspect, is any one person.

Who are these "actual cunts" - do you mean the directors of the companies involved in the PPP and their shareholders? It'd be interesting to see how much of the tenner you put on your Oyster card goes to them rather than paying for the operating costs of the network. I don't mean to say I think it would be an insignificant amount, because I really have idea of how it breaks down - but it would be interesting to compare.

john eden
08-09-2010, 06:37 PM
Presumably the high wages paid to tube drivers are one of the reasons it's so expensive to use. Am I missing something here? It's pretty straightforward, isn't it?

The RMT had argued consistently for a reduction in fares and has been opposed to there being a differential for people who don't have oyster cards.


But that's all a much, much larger question, isn't it? If you're asking me to suggest how we go about restructuring the entire economy to make it "fairer", by whatever standards you consider fair, I'm afraid I'm not qualified to do that. Neither, I suspect, is any one person.

Maybe one model would be for a bunch of people to band together to try and

a) reduce inequality
b) increase their own working conditions
c) discuss how to make things fairer for workers everywhere

now, what would be a good name for that?

john eden
08-09-2010, 06:38 PM
WHO ARE THE ACTUAL CUNTS?

...is the question everyone should be asking right now.

massrock
08-09-2010, 07:14 PM
Well over a billion people in the world live on less than 1% of that. How's that for "absolute terms"?
Yes absolutely, or less. Why is that though? Is reducing wages in the developed world the answer? It's also not a direct comparison as a monetary figure is not an absolute measure of wealth or even purchasing power. It's dependent on other conditions of course, but yes it is a huge amount compared with how much money the vast majority of humans have. Does that mean it's actually an unreasonable figure to expect?


Who are these "actual cunts" - do you mean the directors of the companies involved in the PPP and their shareholders? It'd be interesting to see how much of the tenner you put on your Oyster card goes to them rather than paying for the operating costs of the network. I don't mean to say I think it would be an insignificant amount, because I really have idea of how it breaks down - but it would be interesting to compare.
Well maybe, and it would be interesting to see, but I mean as compared to the amount of value extracted from the economy by people and organisations that profit from war, manipulate markets and economic systems, exploit conditions of poverty in other countries etc. Pretty sure the London Underground payroll hardly compares. What I mean is there are much bigger targets if you want to complain about greed and what goes on at those levels actually does have an effect on not only third world poverty but the cost of public transport here as well. Suspect there are many other factors that affect fares too, and that there ways in which fares could be reduced if that's your concern. I dunno, but I don't think it's simply a straight equation with pay.

massrock
08-09-2010, 07:33 PM
So it's perceived effect on fare prices when they see what tube workers are paid that bothers people then?

Webstarr
08-09-2010, 08:47 PM
The real question is where do I sign up to be a tube driver?

john eden
08-09-2010, 09:31 PM
The real question is where do I sign up to be a tube driver?

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/jobs/default.aspx

luka
09-09-2010, 09:35 AM
as an impartial arbiter i am obliged to say, mr tea, you lost this one.

Mr. Tea
09-09-2010, 11:06 AM
Well maybe, and it would be interesting to see, but I mean as compared to the amount of value extracted from the economy by people and organisations that profit from war, manipulate markets and economic systems, exploit conditions of poverty in other countries etc. Pretty sure the London Underground payroll hardly compares.

Obviously those are all bad things, but the fact that a bigger problem exists elsewhere does not mean that a smaller problem closer to home doesn't matter. You can't just say "What about war? What about starving Africans?" every time someone brings up some domestic political issue. Well of course you can, but it's not very constructive.


So it's perceived effect on fare prices when they see what tube workers are paid that bothers people then?

As you say, it's probably not a 'straight equation', but the two are surely not uncorrelated.

But this is kind of by-the-bye as the recent strike wasn't over wages in any case. I'm not against people making a decent living, just saying that it's understandable that there isn't widespread public support for Tube strikes given (amongst other things) the cost of travelling on it.

john eden
09-09-2010, 12:50 PM
It took me a while to get my head round this, but public support isn't actually the issue.

The negotiation is between the union and management.

The inconvenience caused to the public is a bargaining tool which emphasises the importance of the work being done and the gravity of the situation (nobody goes on strike lightly, despite what "common sense" and the media tell you).

In this negotiation, the function of the RMT is to get the best deal for its members and to defend their working conditions. The function of managment is to generate as much profit as possible.

There is a role for PR in there, for sure - there was massive public support for the ambulance drivers when they went out on strike in the late eighties/early nineties and more recently the fire brigade had a much more mixed reaction than the tube drivers.

Public support obviously helps management look like tools but ultimately neither they nor the union is out to make friends.

john eden
09-09-2010, 12:59 PM
Coming at it from another angle - the media in this country is unbelievably hostile to unions. They are hardly ever given free reign to state their case (how many people think the recent strike is about wages?).

Even if the RMT did want to embark on a PR campaign they would need to plough huge resources into it - resources which could be spent defending their members interests.

And they'd be heavily criticised for paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to PR agencies (everyone knows what Bob Crow earns, AND IT'S A SCANDAL! Who even knows who the heads of LRT are, and what they earn?)

matt b
09-09-2010, 02:23 PM
Mike Brown, Managing Director, London Underground (pay: 289,000)

An actual cunt

Kate Mossad
11-09-2010, 06:08 PM
If you're lucky enough to be in a job where you can join a union you'd be a fool not to quite frankly. The first thing in did in my present job was pick up a security pass, the second was find out the name of my union rep.

"United we stand, divided we're lumbered." As Harry Flowers so eloquently put it in the film Performance.

massrock
12-09-2010, 11:12 AM
Not to mention being in a country where you can join a union. At least for now.

scottdisco
12-09-2010, 11:29 AM
Coming at it from another angle - the media in this country is unbelievably hostile to unions. They are hardly ever given free reign to state their case (how many people think the recent strike is about wages?).

this is so incredibly true it needs restating loudly and often.

back in the spring there was a Network Rail strike ballot. i'm going to quote in full two sanely bang-on-the-money letters that appeared in the Guardian around that time (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/03/undermining-the-right-to-strike/print).


The media treatment of RMT and Bob Crow over the last 48 hours over the Network Rail strike ballot has been the worst example of a concerted campaign of media bias against a trade union that we have seen since the 1980s miners' strike. John Humphrys's interview of Bob Crow, with his references to ballot-rigging, and the BBC's subsequent headline of "RMT's Bob Crow denies ballot rigging", was that disgusting classic of the old hack lawyer's tactic of asking the defendant: "When did you stop beating your wife?"

Even the Guardian's editorial (2 March) ignorantly weighed in with "No union that conducts its ballots properly according to the reasonable requirements of the law would be in danger of being injuncted." This reference to "reasonable requirements of the law" is patent rubbish. To hold a ballot the union must construct and supply the employer with a detailed and complex matrix of information setting out which members it is balloting, their job titles, grades, departments and work locations. The employer is under no obligation to co-operate with the union to ensure this is accurate. If there is the slightest inaccuracy, even where it did not affect the result, the ballot is open to being challenged by the employer and quashed by the courts.

There can be no question of the union ballot-rigging or interfering in the balloting process because it is undertaken by an independent scrutineer, usually the Electoral Reform Society, and all ballot papers are sent by post to the homes of the members being balloted, and returned to the ERS for counting. The union at no time handles the ballot papers.

On at least four occasions in the last three years I have tried in parliament on behalf of RMT and other TUC-affiliated unions to amend employment law to require employers to co-operate with unions in the balloting process so these problems can be overcome. Employers' organisations, the Conservatives and the government have all opposed this reform.

The result is not fewer strikes but a deteriorating industrial relations climate as people become increasingly angry that their democratic wishes are frustrated by one-sided anti-trade-union laws.

John McDonnell MP


The injunction granted against the RMT after the application by Network Rail continues a worrying trend. Of the 36 applications for injunctions in the past five years of which the vast majority were granted all but seven concerned strikes in transport, prisons or Royal Mail. This is because strikes in these organisations have an immediate impact on the employer's operations. So, it can be concluded, there is now very little right to hold an effective strike in Britain.

Unions must do their utmost to put the positive right to strike as high up the election agenda as possible.

Professor Gregor Gall

University of Hertfordshire

dd528
16-09-2010, 03:46 PM
If you're lucky enough to be in a job where you can join a union you'd be a fool not to quite frankly.

I think that's a large part of the problem when it comes down to public support.

To paint with very broad brushstrokes, in the beginning there was the industrial revolution and mass urbanisation of the UK. That created a huge class of urban labourers who were pretty much universally exploited and subjected to working conditions that had a massively detrimental effect on the quality of life of them and their families.

Then unionism began to grow, especially in the first quarter of the twentieth century. If you worked in manufacture or associated industries, it would probably have been possible for you to be unionised. The amount of good this would have done is obviously up for debate; governments and employers have taken hard stands against unions for as long as they have existed. The point is, though, that unions were formed to address the needs of workers in the industries that employed most people.

Since the mid-twentieth century though, there has been a widespread de-industrialisation in this country. This has led to conflict between unions and government and between unions and companies. But, more importantly, the shift to an economy where a huge proportion of the jobs are in service industries has absolutely not been accompanied by a rise in service-sector unions. So you have a situation where the people in the demographic of lowest-skilled workers (likely to be the people who enjoy the least economic security and lowest quality of life, and thus whose interests are most in need of defending) have gone from being mostly unionised to being mostly without any kind of labour organisation to represent their interests.

Obviously there are all kinds of other developments that feed into this topic (creation of the minimum wage, British and European legislation on working conditions, etc.), but the fact remains that being part of a unionised workforce is a foreign experience for most of the millions of people who are employed in the private sector in modern Britain, and so it's not all that surprising that public sympathy for unions isn't all that forthcoming sometimes. Doubly so in a period when private sector workers have to bear the full brunt of a recession, but where public sector workers (by virtue both of being government employees and by being more likely to be unionised) seem to have an extra layer of protection shielding them from the impact of the nation/world's economic problems.

I think that, for anybody interested in workers' rights and interests in twenty-first century Britain, the key question is how to secure a better settlement for workers who have grown up in a world where traditional trade unions are of ever decreasing relevance to the fields of employment of the majority.

sufi
09-01-2017, 12:43 PM
It's OK everyone, no need to worry about inconvenient ideological or employment rights theories, strikes actually improve capitalist efficiency, check it out!
http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/Department-of-Economics-Discussion-Paper-Series/the-benefits-of-forced-experimentation-striking-evidence-from-the-london-underground-network