Thursday 1 May 2008

Unions - a total waste of space

I was trying to add up all the unions that I have been a member of to date, and came up with this list:

  • Storemen and Packers? Not sure what it was called back then, but I did a stint stacking shelves in a major supermarket for a while, and it was compulsory to join the union. No ticket, no start.
  • Some sort of clerical union - when I did some temp work at one of those work cover type federal agences. Again, no ticket no start.
  • Whatever union covered CBH, when I worked on wheatbins every Christmas for 3 or 4 years in a row.
  • The ASU - when I had a job as a pube, and it meant the difference between being paid an industry allowance and not being paid one
  • A student union, back when going to uni meant joining a union
I am sure there have been a few more, but I can't remember them all because on the whole, they were a complete waste of space. In short, the start of many jobs has been accompanied by me being strong-armed into joining a union, with threats of being sacked before I even started if I didn't comply.

The sad thing is that on most occasions, those threats were delivered by a compliant management. I have never been heavied by a union official.

Resigning from my last union was a happy day. I'd spend over 10 years paying my dues, and in that time, I never recieved anything that I would deem worthwhile. And don't start on about how unions negotiate pay rises etc on my behalf. During that time, my salary tripled, and it was all because of pay rises that I negotiated with my manager, or promotions that came my way because of hard work, diligence and delivery. I did not sit around on my bum waiting for someone to plonk a wad of cash into my hands - I went out and worked for it, and I was rewarded appropriately as a result.

I had one experience negotiating with a union, with me as manager. Some of my staff had been diddled out of time off that was owed to them, and I was having a hard time getting the stupid fucks in HR to agree to letting them have it. Someone called in the union (probably HR) and we all sat around the table and thrashed it out.

We got an agreement that all were happy with, but before anything could be done, the union had to write it up and give it to HR and we'd then sign the agreement and life would go on. That was the process, and I was stuck with having to follow it.

But nothing ever happened, because the fat, stupid, drunken lazy oaf of a union rep walked out of the meeting, went to the pub (presumably) and forgot all about it. I tried a few times to get him to do his part, but he never responded. Eventually, we all left the company, and my staff never got what was owed to them.....

Unions. Complete waste of space. They spend all their time and effort (and our money) on media campaigns and nothing on supporting their members. I wish the public service would grow a spine and simply refuse to do any more payroll deductions for union fees. If you want to pay your membership fees, you should have to do it by direct debit or bpay or some other everyday financial transaction. The days of having the payroll department deduct the union fees should be brought to an end. If you conciously have to pay for it, more people might decide that they are not getting value for money, and pull the pin. That might force the stupid bastards to actually look after their members.

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