Coffee House

How can the Tories work with trade unions?

21 April 2013

5:57 PM

21 April 2013

5:57 PM

In the latest instalment of WWTD? Boris Johnson has called for ‘Thatcherite zeal’ from the government in standing up to militant trade unions. According to the Sun on Sunday, the Mayor of London wants a turnout threshold of 50 per cent before a strike is legitimate.

A group of Tory MPs – including those quoted in today’s story – have been pushing for trade union reform for some time. Their argument is that a movement founded to push the rights of the low-paid to the top of the agenda is now more interested in flattering the vanity of its high-paid leaders by pulling unnecessary strikes on low turnouts.

But there are others in the party – Robert Halfon being the most notable example – who are just as interested in talking about the aspects of trade unionism that the Conservatives should be endorsing. If the Tory party can help craft an effective future for the trade union movement where it returns to representing workers, rather than picking big partisan fights over small issues, then that would be a legacy worthy of the Iron Lady.

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Show comments
  • thanksdellingpole

    This is the same guy who told the Police to not do anything during the London riots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/josephalan.jones Joseph Alan Jones

    I think 50% to justify a Strike is too low; 75% is more like it; even that is too low I suspect.

  • GUBU

    But the Conservatives are reaching out to trade union leaders. Look how many of them have benefited from the 45p tax rate….

  • andagain

    IIRC, Hayek used to say that his only objection to unions was their legal immunities. Take away those immunities, and he would have nothing against them whatsoever. He was not even happy about right-to-work laws banning a closed shop.

  • jazz606

    Trade unions promote the political aspirations of their leaders rather than the real interest of members. Boris is right there should be at least a 50%+ vote of the entire membership in favour of strike action before a strike can be called.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Rather familiar territory to Boris Johnson

  • Radford_NG

    A third of trade-unionists were Tory.Liverpool and Scotland were Tory once upon a time[or Liberal UK Unionists in coalition with English Conservatives].

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      That 3rd now don’t have to join.

  • Daniel Maris

    What a joke! If there is one politically motivated trade union halting progress in a luddite manner, it is the RMT on the London Underground. And who has the chance to take them on? Boris Johnson. And does he? Does he F!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      They took them on during the Olympics and paid them off

    • http://twitter.com/rayveysey Ray Veysey

      I think you will find he is taking them on, but not as you might expect. The driverless train is being developed, and will be the ultimate answer.

  • http://twitter.com/NeilBrannigan1 Neil Brannigan

    why don’t the Tories draw a distinction between public sector unions and private sector unions – the latter can and should be encouraged to work with boardrooms to spend some of this cash that private companies are apparently holding on higher workers’ wages, the former engage in extortion of the taxpayer on a mass scale.and need to be disbanded

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Yes bank unions could get a huge boost for counter staff since Banks are awash with cash

    • Reconstruct

      I agree: properly functioning private sector trade unions play an important role in the effective management of companies, and should be encouraged for the good of British industry. They should also be encouraged because the Conservatives should not only be on the side of the working man, but should be seen to be on the side of the working man. But as for the public sector unions. . . .

    • thanksdellingpole

      Isn’t that political lobbying, as in big-pharma?

  • Magnolia

    I’ve just heard Ms Caroline Lucas call for a “general strike” to fight the bedroom tax because ‘nothing else will make the government listen and change its course’ (on Piennar’s Politics just now).
    We know that Ed M likes ‘Green’ policies so must asume that he shares this thinking.
    One of my favourite books is North and South by Mrs Gaskell, in which she describes the life of Victorian workers and bosses and the relationships between them and the fledgling unions.

    I agree with her view and I agree with the view of the blonde gorilla.
    Every southern Tory should read that book.
    Ed wouldn’t understand it.

    • HookesLaw

      Lets face it Lucas is a communist.

      • Makroon

        No she’s not.
        She’s just a daft greenie.

        • ScaryBiscuits

          Daft greenies and communists are the same thing. Both are useful idiots to those seeking power.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Hedges/100001511186412 Charles Hedges

        A party which sustains Mark Hoban and the abominable Lord Freud should be unelectable. But it enjoys name-calling as much as it enjoys bullying.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Hey, it ain’t just Ed M who likes greenie policies. Call Me Dave is in lust with them as well. So I guess he’s a communist, too.

  • HookesLaw

    Trade unions are a necessary adjunct to capitalism and as such there is nothing wrong with them. The political aspect of trade unions are a different matter and it should be made law to opt in to any political levy not opt out.

    Frankly if a strike is to be effective it would make sense for unions to keep the bar for any strike relatively high, ie 60%, to ensure solidarity… but thats up to them.

  • Andy

    Simple answer is the Tories cannot work with the Trade Unions because the later don’t want to work with the Tories.

    What the Government should do is bring in reform. Far too much public money is used to prop up Unions. If they want almost full time union officials they can damn well pay for them, not the taxpayer. If the unions wants an office it can pay rent. Plenty of work can be done like this.

    • telemachus

      Why provoke?
      To what end?
      Is it “We are the masters” ?

      • Andy

        Provoke ? Whom exactly ?

        I do not pay my taxes to subsides the fascist NUT, UNISON or any of those other scumbags. If you want to be a Union representative then do it on your own time and don’t expect the taxpayer to pay for it.

        • telemachus

          So you do wish to provoke
          To what end
          No-one in the Tory Party has the balls of Thatcher and you will simply disrupt education health or whatever other union group takes the fancy of your bile
          Back off

          • Andy

            Can’t: there are Fascists to defeat. Like you.

            • telemachus

              I addressed tis word on another thread

              • Andy

                And I corrected you on another thread.
                As I said Fascists should be confronted and defeated.

            • http://www.facebook.com/josephalan.jones Joseph Alan Jones

              A fascist is an extreme socialist. There is no cure:- exterminate!

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Your definition of ‘provoke’ appears to mean: ‘demonstrating a willingness to challenge the status quo’ while your recommendation is ‘ to leave things as they are because you might hurt their feelings’. The Unions clearly have no such scruples and are willing to ‘provoke’ for the flimsiest of reasons few of which actually serve the best interests of their members.

        • http://www.facebook.com/josephalan.jones Joseph Alan Jones

          The NUT known as Nuts, mainly Primary Teachers have life too easy; to little chalk face time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    Could they move on from Trades Unions representing Workers to MPs representing Constituents ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    I want a 50% turnout before any Election in any political contest is valid

  • http://twitter.com/rayveysey Ray Veysey

    The way to do it might be to sidestep the Union leaders and campaign to the members about what the unions do and spend behind their backs with their money, about how their taxes are paying reps to work, so why are they paying subs? I don’t believe the average union member is a socialist at heart, and some of the beliefs of the men they follow would actually frighten them.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      I honestly believe your last sentence to be very true.

      • telemachus

        Thatcher showed us the truth of this and acted
        but the way forward is not the Johnson way or the Andy wayqv
        This is not the 1980’s
        We all need to, for example with the teachers, support and encourage them as a profession by cherishing and adequately rewarding, rather than Gove-type chastising.
        Then they will ignore the militant tendency leaders

        • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

          I doubt it. I agree this is not the 80s, many thanks to Margaret Thatcher for giving the workers more say and not the militant. However, teachers ARE well paid, the problem is that none are EVER chastised: this is the whole problem: if for the last 4 decades bad teachers were sacked and good teachers rewarded/promoted we wouldn’t be ‘here’ now. I have met people that I though were unemployable and then find they have been teachers for may years!

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Yes let’s support and reward the good/excellent teachers but why can we not simply fire the incompetent teachers/nurses/policemen/social workers etc etc. Why do we keep people in jobs for which they are manifestly unable to meet the objectives. Why should we continue to nurture failure at the expense of the taxpayer? We should relieve incompetent performers while treating them as generously as we can afford thus giving them the time to find a job they might actually be good at. Amazing as it may seem, and I have a great deal of direct experience of this, if you keep weeding out poor performers and keep rewarding good performers, customers (pupils for example) are well served, your enterprise grows and you may even be able to employ more people. These new employees see that poor performance is not tolerated and lo and behold they are happy, well rewarded and satisfied in their work. If trade unions could work within these criteria instead of posing as an alternative government, the country might actually do some of that growing you are so fond of without recourse to the idiot government of the day..

    • Colonel Mustard

      This is the nub. How to separate the very laudable aims of Trade Unions to protect workers from the communist/militant socialist minority that hi-jacks them for purely political purposes and uses them as a weapon to undermine governments they do not approve of.

    • thanksdellingpole

      Jim McGovern £27k

      • http://twitter.com/rayveysey Ray Veysey

        We have seen this before with socialists, is he earning £27k or is he only drawing £27K?, and what are his expenses?

  • Archimedes

    Halfon is right. It would be a mistake to open old Trade Union wounds just after MT’s funeral — it will look entirely political to the country, and while the South might approve, it will rekindle bad memories for the North, which is exactly the opposite of what the Tories need to be doing.

    On the other hand if the Tories concentrate on doing what Halfon says, they might be able to endear themselves slightly to the North.

    The South is already secure; the North is still up for grabs.

    • telemachus

      The North is lost forever
      In Yorkshire and Lancashire it will be Labour versus UKIP

    • 2trueblue

      Why? For goodness sake we all pay our taxes. it is this north south divide that gifts Liebore with the upper hand.

      • Archimedes

        But we are quite culturally different, are we not? The South has better weather, better jobs, a more international outlook, and of course the capital. The North has lost it’s pride, because it has lost it’s purpose. Every additional hit is one too many. It has stronger communities, but that breeds an inward looking nature. Rarely are the concerns of the world on the minds of the north, so it is hardly a surprise that when some southern Tory walks in with talk of a global race they see a foreigner. Somehow or other it is going to have to be repurposed, and it is going to have to be more outward looking. The question for the North is not how to link it to the south, but how to link it to the world.

        • 2trueblue

          The reality is if they want to join the real world then they can, it is not up to any one else to provide the conduit for them. WE are all in this together, but we all have to work for it. Why should any one have a bye? No one has the right to be carried.

          • Archimedes

            Yes, you’re quite right — it’s much cheaper to go on subsidising a declining North in aeternum, and a prospering south suffocated by ever increasing subsidies as the gap grows.

            Let’s get rid of all airports, train stations and the underground in the south. Let’s also get of education — no one should expect a free handout. Then let’s get rid of all regulation to unlock the private sector, and just wait — the public sector isn’t needed at all, people will be perfectly happy when their whacky neighbour on Quiet Grove decides to open an international airport at No. 21.

            Government has a role to play in what is supplied to market, because otherwise everyone would be very unhappy, and you would be the first to shout about it.

            The free market operates on a platform, and in the north that platform has yet to be created.

            • 2trueblue

              Or you could just move.

              • Archimedes

                Yup — that’s a winner!

            • Daniel Maris

              The best critiques are funny and true. Spot on Archimedes.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

              Really ? I thought the infrastructure was crap. West Yorkshire is the centre of the Printing Industry and a fair bit of Engineering. They used to manufacture Challenger tanks in Leeds until someone decided to transfer production to Newcastle and then close down the plant. There used to be a major industrial business in the North East and Cheshire – ICI – but that was destroyed by the City. There are lots of BAe plants but they cannot get orders apparently.

              • Archimedes

                You say that like you’re disagreeing with me, but then you’ve more or less said exactly what I did.

                The infrastructure needs improving, and when it comes to Northern industry the overriding tendency is to talk about what it “used to be”.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          You should print this post out, frame it and put it up on the wall. It’s as appropriate a Cameroonian suicide note as could possibly be written.

        • http://twitter.com/rayveysey Ray Veysey

          The North has been betrayed by the people it trusted, that is the Labour Party and the Unions. The unions destroyed jobs driving a political agenda rather than supporting it’s members, (and that is most definitely not the same thing) the labour party encouraged them to do this, and flooded the country with immigrants to steal what jobs there were. Most Labour voters are NOT socialists, (most cannot afford to be you need to be rich like the union leaders and the politicians) and would be horrified by what their leaders really stand for, (and I know I have said that before, but it’s worth repeating)>

        • Reconstruct

          I’ve thought about this overnight, and I think on reflection this is one of the silliest comments I’ve read on this site. The assertion that the north is inward-looking might perhaps be made by one who relies on the BBC for his/her view of the world (all those weeping Geordies, all those resentful miners), but flies in the face of the economic and industrial history of the place. The north, after all, was the place that invented the Industrial Revolution, and it seems doubtful that it did that without a vigorous curiosity about the rest of the world. Even now, my bet is that a large proportion of Britain’s exports come from ‘the north.’ Certainly it’s where most of the rise in employment is coming from right now.

          Archimedes might have known this, but I suspect – and I’d be happy to be instructed by him – that he’s rarely been outside the M25. So what to me jumps out is the quite extraordinary narrow-minded ignorance of Britain that allows him to invent this mind-set.

          As for ‘the North has lost its pride’. Well, what a statement!

          The one area where we can perhaps agree is that it is high time for the North to be relieved of the blight of excessive public-sector employment. Perhaps (only perhaps) this was initially well-meant, but it has been obvious for decades now that public-sector blight distorts regional labour markets and in the long-run entrenches poverty. Slash back the state, and watch the North bloom.

  • telemachus

    This is of course rhetoric to keep him the darling
    The correct course is of course do nothing and let the Trade Unions continue to wither
    Anyway Boris will never be leader (his hand on the nuclear button?)
    And of course again we do not expect the current Government to last more than the 25 months it has left

    • Archimedes

      “And of course again we do not expect the current Government to last more than the 25 months it has left”

      Oh, but we do.

      • telemachus

        I admire dreaming

        • Archimedes

          I do not.

          • telemachus

            But practice impossible ones

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Your tribalist slip is showing.

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