Shednotes 14: The downside of trade unionism

The Shed includes a former shop steward but also has connections in middle management and, having heard their stories, would not want them to have missed the following anonymous testimony from a Trade Union Officer in the What I’m Really Thinking column in Guardian Weekend 20.9.14 …
“I’ve got a very good salary, little supervision and a company car. Life would be great – if it wasn’t for the members. GPs talk about ‘heart-sink’ patients. Union officials have heart-sink members. The ones who constantly phone you up, seeing every slight or adverse comment from management as an opportunity to launch a grievance – especially if there’s a possibility of some money in it.
“I started off as an idealistic advocate of working-class solidarity. That idealism soon dissipated as I realised that conditions in the industry that I covered weren’t actually that bad. That was in no small part due to the presence of the union. But having established reasonable pay rates and terms of service, some of the members now see it as their right to call in an official for any minor difficulty that could easily be informally resolved. And they always mention the D word. Discrimination claims are seen as a cash-cow and provoke some aggrieved employees to expect compensation – as a matter of principle, you understand. They add they’re not doing it for the money. Of course they’re not. It used to be sex, then race, and now it’s age discrimination that’s trending.
“One of my worst troublemakers eventually retired, then phoned me up to complain that he hadn’t had a leaving do. I enjoyed breaking the news to him that there had indeed been a retirement party. It’s just that he wasn’t invited.”


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