Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The utter degeneration of the trade union movement

I was never really in a position to appreciate trade unions. In my first full-time job, as a solicitor's clerk, I decided to join the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union (MSF). I paid a month's dues, then realised that it would make not one jot of difference to my position in life. However, it is clear that for their many problems, trade unions in the UK have managed to provide some defence to pay and conditions for their members.

How times have changed. Rarely do unions actually talk about pay and conditions and, when they do, they seem organisationally incapable of doing anything about them. Instead, they are at the very forefront of two of the worst trends in modern society: the elevation of risk, and the compensation culture. This is illustrated by the 100th issue of the TUC's newsletter for safety officers, Risks. While the history of trade unionism is the struggle for ordinary people to overcome their circumstances, the modern organisations are a rallying call to human frailty: bullying, passive smoking, workplace violence, RSI, back strain. You name it, there is no issue about which employers and government can't do more to intervene in people's lives. And how many high-profile negligence cases are funded by unions?

Trades Union Congress - Risks 100


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