Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Unrepresentative Unions

I was intrigued by this article from The Sunday Herald on the recent SNP annual conference which was attended by the general secretary of the Scottish TUC, Graeme Smith, who was seeking for support in opposing "every single part" of the Trade Union Bill currently making its way through the House of Commons.

Now much of this bill is a diversion from sensible industrial relations because Scotland unlike, say, the London Underground network, is not plagued by strikes or the unreasonable demands of out of control workers holding the rest of the public to ransom.

In fact, I think it's fair to say we've seen too few strikes north of the border in recent years and it's very noticeable that the unions deliberately chose not to even threaten the use of the strike weapon as a way of holding Scotland's Labour-run councils to account in the fight for equal pay, for example. 

To add insult to injury we've hardly heard a word from the STUC on the issue of equal pay, even though tens of thousands of low paid women workers have been so badly let down in a major industrial dispute which has lasted for more than 10 years.

So I take Graeme's words with a great big pinch of salt because the real issue that concerns the unions is not higher thresholds for taking strike action, but the threat posed to Labour Party coffers because the new Trade Union Bill will require union members to make a conscious decision to 'opt-in' to paying a political levy to Labour in future.

Which is a very good thing, if you ask me, because while the STUC is not affiliated to Labour, the STUC's general council (its controlling executive) is stuffed full of card carrying Labour supporters even though the majority of ordinary union members in Scotland these days vote for other political parties - especially the SNP. 

Scotland's needs trade unions, independent trade unions, accountable unions - led by men and women who are genuinely representative of the grassroots membership.

But that's not what's on offer from the STUC or the big affiliated trade unions like the GMB, Unison and Unite who continue their love affair with the Labour Party even though most of their members have already voted with their feet.

'Exclude Scotland from Tories' 'vindictive' anti-union laws'

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary speaks to the trades union motion on the last day of the SNP 81st Annual National Conference at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) in Aberdeen. Picture © ALLAN MILLIGAN

By Tom Gordon - The Sunday Herald