Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Union Membership Increases: A Great Start for 2017!

Dear Colleagues,

My last post of the year comes on the back of an increase in trade union membership which, although identified formally earlier in the year, has been spurred on by the waves of industrial action across rail, post and air travel.

As Paul Mason reports in today's Guardian, the wave of strike action reflects core concerns of workers including the rise of insecure work, stagnant wages, and the increasing impacts of automation. Whilst strike action is only one remedy in the repertoire of union activity, we know from historical analysis (including Richard Hyman's Strikes) that industrial action can and does have a consciousness raising effect on those involved, and those non-unionised workers observing.

Thus, as Mason suggests, whilst some are criticising striking workers, others are taking a leaf from their book, and deciding that now is the time to collectivise.

As the pace and scale of precarious forms of work increases across the UK, and workers see their wages plunge further in real terms value, it is not surprising that they add 2 and 2, and see trade union membership as part of the answer.

It is not just the broad political and social context of work that is problematic, it is the very nature of work itself. Whether the increased pace of work, or the brutalising effects of poor managerial practices. As Mason states:

We have near full employment yet near wage stagnation. The strikes taking place over Christmas are happening among workers who have not seen a pay rise for years. BA’s onboard customer service managers, for example, have been stripped of their union negotiation rights and had their pay frozen for six years.

One of the most pitiful things about the political class, and the economists who whisper certainties in their ear, is their distance from the actual experience of work. As trade union rights have become eroded throughout the private sector, and large chunks of the public sector become privatised, a culture of coercion has taken root at work.

The full article can be read here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/19/dont-complain-about-the-strikers-theyre-only-doing-what-we-all-should-in-2017

Formal confirmation of the initial increase in mid-2016 is here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/union-issues/leadership-unions/stronger-unions-blog/tuc-welcomes-increase-trade-union-membership

So, although just a brief post, one at least to end 2016, and introduce 2017, on a highly positive note.

I wish you all the very best for the Christmas period, and look forward to writing my first post of the new year.

In Solidarity


No comments: