Thursday 24 November 2011

The Meaning of 'Union'

Next Wednesday, members of many public sector unions in the UK will go on strike. Of course there will undoubtedly be a lot of union members who will go to work as normal.
To them I say, what do you suppose the word 'union' to mean?

If you, a paid-up member of the union, needed their help, and your union rep said "no, we don't think your problem merits our help", you would not be pleased. It works both ways. The union is just that, a union of workers standing together to help each other, but you would accept, indeed expect, their help in your own difficulties, yet not support the cause of the rest of the union?
Did you turn out to vote no to the strike? If not - and I am led to believe that supporters of action are usually overrepresented in the ballot - what right have you to say you don't agree with the union's action? And if you agree with it, but won't do anything yourself, is that not selfish and hypocritical? Are you not making a mockery of the very idea of a union?
You would enjoy any benefits, but let others take the loss of earnings, the boss's displeasure?
If you did turn out to vote no, and you do disagree with the reasons for the strike, I still say you should do it. If a law was passed, that you had lobbied against, by a government you had voted against, would you refuse to obey it? Perhaps, if you disagreed strongly enough, but if you did, would you expect to be exempt from any repercussions because you voted against it? The union is a democracy; just like the government it takes action based on the vote of the majority, and you knew that when you voluntarily signed up, and if you aren't willing to follow that decision, what right have you to be part of the union solely where it benefits you?
In my opinion, not taking part in industrial action should forfeit you your membership. It won't so it's only up to your conscience.

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