The Trade Union Movement was legalised in the UK in 1871. From what I read, at the time working conditions, whilst rapidly improving, were still pretty dreadful. Workers had little by way of rights and many Employer treated employees with a very straightforward management style. You turn up, you get paid, you don’t turn up, you don’t get paid. Should you continue not to turn up, don’t bother coming back. Can you imagine that today?
No such thing as maternity leave, paternity leave, flexible working, contracts of employment, notice periods, sick pay, death in service benefit, pay reviews, annual pay increases, appraisals, redundancy payments, duvet days, chill out rooms, company gyms, health club membership, private health cover, flexible benefits, days off in lieu. Need a trip to the Dentist? Tough no pay. Need to collect the kids? Tough no pay? Wife had a Baby? Congratulations, now get back to work.
The Unions have done an incredible job since the Tolpuddle Martys to ensure that work, pay and conditions are something that we can be proud of in the developed world and rightly so. Clearly some parts of this planet have a long way to go, but on the whole working conditions have improved immeasurably.
So what do we need Trade Unions for in 2011? Are they an invaluable defender of workers rights, or simply an over – bloated, unnecessary relic of a bygone era? Workers have never had it so good, have we?
Union Leaders are some of the best paid, do they deserve it for the greater contribution they make, for the goodwill of the working majority? Are they simply self serving, rewarding themselves handsomely from members subscriptions whilst embarking on a shameless quest of self promotion?
So what’s your view? What place the Unions in 2011? Let me have your comments, I would love to listen.