Monday, 20 December 2010

Unions should represent members not dogma

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey took to the pages of the Guardian yesterday not to spell out his program for representing members in the workplace, but instead to tell how he was "preparing for battle" over the Governments policy agenda.

I believe Unions have a role to play in society. However Union leaders must always remember that people have the opportunity to vote for their political leaders and indeed their polices. Is it really the job of unelected* Union leaders to be preparing to fight the Government on its whole agenda?

I can't help thinking the rhetoric of Union leaders like Mr McCluskey, who seem excited by a return to the battles of the 1980's, does so little to help their members. Does he really believe his members want to see the current welfare state go unreformed?, our industry continually burdened by tax and red tape? or that they want to see their Unions more interested in overthrowing the Government than representing their individual interests?

It is a good indication that a Union leader is losing touch when the Editorial of the proudly left-wing Guardian newspaper warns against following "Mr McCluskey up the blind alley of deficit denial, indiscriminate opposition to all cuts, and a programme of strikes which large parts of the country will see as an attack on rather than a defence of the public realm."

I hope fellow Union leaders spend more time seeking a sensible dialogue with the Government to represent workers interests, rather than trying to turn back time to 1979.

(* Just for balance, although not elected as a politican I do believe Len was elected by around 7% of Unite members)