Monday, June 06, 2011

How to wind up the Trade Unions..................

Oh Vince, I'm really not sure this was wise.

And why on earth is a Liberal Democrat going like a lamb to the slaughter threatening to visit some unspecified restriction of the right to withdraw labour on naughty unions if they don't play nice?

Don't get me wrong, I don't always think that union decisions are either sensible or helpful. And I do think that some of them are loving playing a 70s or 80s style class war, to the detriment of their members' interests. But, if a majority of people voting want to go on strike, then surely they have to be allowed to.  They may not have public support for what they are doing, and it may hurt the economy, and it may be highly disruptive - but surely they have to have the right.

Way back in the 70s, it scared the living daylights out of me to see these huge mass meetings where people voted for strike action without any secret ballot. The potential for intimidation was obvious and for that reason, much if not all of the union legislation passed in the 80s was reasonable.

There was no way the GMB were going to do anything other than boo Vince today - they probably would have done anyway. What he's done is give them an excuse to cry foul.

I hope that our people aren't going to get involved in introducing any turnout limits, for example. Saying that there has to be 40% of the union in favour of strike action, rather than 40% of those voting seems to fly in the face of everything we believe about the legitimacy of public elections. By that logic, when exactly would we last have had a legitimate Government in the UK?

I have been very concerned about the idea that the Government might water down employment rights, particularly access to tribunals, or increase in the length of qualifying periods. Jo Swinson asked specifically about any watering down of the Equality Act the other week and was told it wouldn't happen, which is a good sign, but I really don't want employers being given a sign that it's fine to treat their employees badly just at the time when unions are told their right to do anything about it will be tampered with if they, er, use their current, perfectly legal right to strike.

I really don't think winding up the unions is the right tack to take and is likely to make things worse rather than better. It makes destructive industrial action a lot more likely.

The Government actually needs to be calm and conciliatory with the unions. Anything else subscribes to their narrative that this is the 80s all over again.


Anonymous said...

I thought Vince was being relatively subtle. He was pretty much saying 'I don't want to change employment law, but a lot of the Tories do. At the moment, the government as a whole (and probably the PM) agrees with me. If you start kicking off big-style on political crusades and general strikes, I will lose the argument within government. Please don't give anything for the Tory right to seize on.'

Of course, subtlety doesn't exactly work against the GMB in militant mode.

Caron said...

I'm not sure a public game of good cop/bad cop is a sensible strategy with this lot. It's bound to rile them and give us nothing to bargain with later. They will just decide we're the spawn of Satan whereas we might have been able to find some common ground.

Douglas said...

Next we'll be hearing "we like free speech, but if we start hearing you say things we don't like, we'll have to look at restricting freedom of speech."

The fact is that by and large the unions stand up for the ordinary working man. The government, by and large, stands up for the ordinary working banker and those who already have power.

I never thought it would happen, but the LibDems now support the establishment, are putting the largest cuts onto sick/disabled people, attacking the jobs of the average man and generally making the UK a more rich and elite-friendly country.

I bet your MPs and Ministers are getting a good deal out of it though. So, that's a plus, eh?

Caron said...

Douglas, Labour would have made pretty much as many cuts as the Coalition have.

Unions should stand up for the ordinary working person, but I'm not sure they always do - especially when the person is a low paid woman. They're not always good on strategy.

Douglas said...

Not once did I mention the word "Labour" in my post. Why do so many LibDems assume that, if I disagree with them, I automatically support Labour?

I'm actually an ex-LD voter (supported you since 2001) who will never even think of voting LD again as I am disgusted by what they're doing, especially to the sick/disabled.

I know Labour were going to make massive cuts. Which was one of the reasons I voted LD in May 2010: they campaigned on slower, less deep cuts. And Danny Alexander, in particular, promised not to cut from the disabled.

Funny how I ended up being a turkey voting for Christmas.

cynicalHighlander said...

This is just par for the course when LibDems get power.

Independence of Scots Law at risk from Scotland Bill

Two referendums needed for independence, says Moore

The thought of ermine before democracy.


Related Posts with Thumbnails