Friday, 18 December 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years

A question readers frequently ask is: "Why are the employers able to treat the trade unions with such disdain.

The answer is that from time to time - but far too often - the unions give the impression that the lunatics have taken over the asylum - that there are no union leaders prepared to take responsibility - and call a spade a spade.

Take the recent debacle over this year's the union pay claim for Scottish council workers - they are demanding a 3% increase - at a time when the country, economically speaking, is on its knees.

The employers response was strangely muted - unsure whether to laugh or cry.

The logic of the union 3% pay demand is that they rejected a three-year pay offer recently - the third year of which (if they had accepted it at the time) would have delivered a 2.5% rise.

But they didn't - they miscalculated on which way inflation and the economy would head - so now they're asking for even more: 3%.

At times like this, you can see why the employers look at the unions in complete bafflement at times - as if to ask: "Which planet are you living on?"

Other groups of workers did accept longer-term pay deals - when they were on offer - but they made the right call at the right time.

Imagine the fury of the unions if the employers tried to revisit these pay agreements - made in good faith - because it's akin to changing the rules once the game is over - and in reality just a bad case of sour grapes.

So, the unions are on a hiding to nothing - all this 3% business is just a smokescreen to cover up for their poor judgment previously - a bit of ritual chest-beating to impress the more gullible members.

Yet, it's ordinary members who pay the price - when union leaders make the wrong call - just look at their track record over single status and equal pay.