I am a recently joined member of Unite the Union in Britain and feel quite strongly in the role of trades unions.
I feel that they are one of the greatest collective groups of people power still left in the world. Many countries are denied rightst o form a union check out these little pieces of infrmation on treatment on workers wanting to form a union.
In the Philippines, Dole -- with the help of the military -- has been doing what it can to crush the independent, democratic union chosen by the workers. This includes making death threats against union leaders and having the army visit workers' homes. In less than a week, an election will take place. Dole (and the government) needs to be told to respect the decision of the workers. This is urgent -- please take a moment and send off your message today:
Meanwhile, in Turkey workers employed at the Indian-owned company Polyplex are facing dismissals for trying to have their own union. More than 20 have already been sacked. Polyplex must start respecting trade union rights too. Please add your voice to the international outcry here:
And finally, in Pakistan the Swiss-owned company Syngenta has sacked the leader of the union there, who is also President of the National Federation of Pakistani Chemical, Energy, and Mine (PCEM) Workers' Union. Tell the company that in Pakistan as in Switzerland, it has to respect workers' rights:
These are all examples of countries cracking down on union involvement within workers.
Back here in the Uk it has been no coincidence that the selling off of factories and manufacturing industries the coal mine closures and other large factory worker plants have been sold off has coincidided with the decline in union membership take-up. The tories are dead scared of trades unions and their influence in a work place. They actively discourage workers from joining one or even allowing one. Their greatest fear is that the workers get together and realise their class struggle and form a militant style revolution in the work place. This frightens the tories to bits as they dont want anyone standing up and having a voice in the shop floor.
I know many union members at my local trades council and therea re fewer and fewer of them now. This is a sad state of affairs but unsurprising in many ways.
The way the right wing media in this country has bombarded the unions with negative press and what can only be described as union bashing from the tories in parliament and beyond does nothing to help their image to teh wider public.
Now this hasnt decimated the movement totally as there is still a estimated 6 million trades union members in the UK as we speak myself included. I feel this figure could rise as we become under increasing pressure about our jobs in the public and private sectors.
As well as union bashing from the usual suspects the tories and right wing press the ones you wouldnt e xpect it of would be Labour MP's and Labour party members.
Countless times now i have read pieces attacking unions and their right to strike and express their democractic right to strike.
Even Ed Miliband has been out saying he doesnt agreeing with strikes that are irresponsible. Shaking off that "red Ed" tag well and truely there ay ed ?
where is Ed's principles once he was elected by a lot of unions to become labour party leader back last september he now feels it is ok to attack the movement which served to get him elected. Very sad to hear.
It will be interesting to see if he does keep his pledge to march along side us on March 26th in London at the big TUC march for the alternative. From the sounds of it he was, then he wasnt, then he was and now he'll maybe just be speaking at it. Talk about flip flopping. But then again what would you expect from someone who seems to want to identify with the Lib Dems and offer them a place in his party and policy forming.
But back to unions i am a firm believer in workers rights. Allowing people to use the last democractic right anyone has which is to withdraw your labour should not be under-estimated. It is a vital role unions can play in the fightback against this right wing tory lead government.
I must say Unions are not perfect like any organisation of course and i can target critisism at them like anyone else can such as the TUC's sluggishness at responding to the cuts and not organising a march on parliament before christmas of 2010 instead putting it way back to March the 26th, for me that is too lat and a lot of the councils will have set their budgets for the coming year by then.
But on the whole unions do a very good job at representing workers.
The leaders at the top do sometimes need reminding who they are there to defend and fight for, their members not just themselves but on the whole i've met some very good union members during my time knowing the movement.
Lastly i do think certain unions should maybe consider their relliance on funding the labour party so religiously. I know this may not go down too well with everyone but labour do not represent working people anymore. Working people have no real voice or anyone who represents them ias a political force despite waht you may think of labour today. They dont but unions who do and can continue to fund labour a capitalist sympathising party to the hilt. Why ? i still havent worked that out either. I dont see what is in it for the unions. I really dont think their membership would be greatly affected if they pulled out of backing labour. I do think eventually a new workers party is needed to give ordinary working people a say in politics again and to represent them nationally and on issues that affect them not a party which focus's on big business and bailing out banks.
I do intend on doing a blog post on the need for a new workers party at somepoint but it needs a lot of thought but i do think in the meantime TUSC, Trades Union Socialist Coalition is doing a good job in being a stepping stone towards that eventual goal.