Guest post from Pink Prosecco.
To read some papers or blogs you would think that trade unionists were as evil and all powerful as Bond villains, particularly in the public sector. However the reality may seem different from the worker’s perspective.
Whereas the academic friend I mentioned in a previous post is just left wondering why on earth he spent so many years of study and job insecurity to become, for so much of his time, a glorified administrator, another friend of mine, a teacher in the state sector, has more pressing concerns. As well as working very long hours, including evenings and weekends, he is now feeling under pressure because of a poor ‘observation’, despite a generally excellent track record. His performance is now coming under scrutiny, yet he does not want to join a union because it is his perception that this will make things worse, attracting still more unwelcome scrutiny.
This may not seem – it may not be – a rational response, yet the current climate is creating an atmosphere of fear and anxiety in employees who know that they have little bargaining power when jobs are in such short supply. Without having to behave like the managers at Barclays described in a recent Independent article for example, bosses are, in my own experience and that of others I know, expecting more from their employees and handing out more tasks to them. Many workers seems to be responding by anxiously putting in hours they are not paid for, often failing to take their full holiday entitlement, because they are afraid of what may happen if they don’t simply comply.
Workers also, of course, have to face more concrete problems than those caused by this insidious self-policing. Old problems don’t go away. Here you can read about complaints which have been filed against high profile figures who have been behind the blacklisting of trade union activists in the construction industry:
“The complaint names two HR managers at Balfour Beatty, Gerry Harvey and Elaine Gallagher; as well as Carillion managers, Liz Keates and John Edwards; and a former head of HR at Sir Robert McAlpine, David Cochrane.
According to the Blacklist Support Group, the five ‘either attended meetings or covertly supplied personal data on trade union members to the secret blacklist which was used to systematically deny work to 3200 individuals.”
Andy Newman has some quite interesting posts up about Carillion on Socialist Unity – they haven’t attracted any comments yet though. Perhaps the recent purges of deviant commenters have left only supporters of the Chinese and Cuban regimes unbanned – and such people are unlikely to think highly of trade union freedoms.