Kay’s Blog: You don’t get me, I’m part of the union……

Politics / Thu 16th May 2024 at 08:25am

May Blog by Councillor Kay Morrison

RECENTLY Elon Musk declared ‘I disagree with the idea of unions. I just don’t like anything which creates a lords and peasants sort of thing.’ He added ‘Unions naturally try to create negativity in a company.’

Tesla employs around 140,000 workers but, in spite of allegations of high injury rates, below-industry pay and long hours, attempts to unionise the workforce have been unsuccessful. United Auto Workers, United Steelworkers and Workers United have all tried.

Musk fired thousands of members of staff after he acquired Twitter. It’s claimed that he told workers to sleep in the office instead of going home. He fired 24 workers who had the audacity to criticise him.

However, he reckoned without Sweden’s labour stalwarts who went on strike, supported by dockworkers, electricians and postal workers. In Denmark and Norway, dockworkers joined the action, refusing to unload Tesla cars. 

Does Mr Musk have a point, though? After all, not every worker, whatever colour the collar may be, is a union member. 

Trade unions weren’t legalised in Britain till 1824 after years of repression. In 1831 coal and steel workers in Methyr Tydfil protested against lowered wages and unemployment; the protest spread and for the first time the red flag was flown as a potential symbol of trade unionism and socialism. 

Unions were instrumental in creating the Labour Representation Committee, forming the basis of the Labour Party. Trade union membership brings greater protection at work, providing a stronger voice to call out unfair treatment. Because of trade unions, we have weekends, children aren’t forced to work, working hours are controlled, we have sick pay, we are stronger. Wages and terms of employment tend to be better in unionised workplaces … but employers benefit too.

Recognising a trade union can simplify negotiating terms and conditions. Dialogue between unions and employers can improve employee retention, can lead to more informed business decisions, can reduce work-stress-related absence. A healthy trade union/employer relationship benefits everybody concerned. It can be very hard work but well worth the effort.

The New Deal for Workers being agreed by unions and the Labour Party will undo the damage inflicted by the current Westminster government. Change is sorely needed.

So ……. Elon Musk is wrong. For sure. He has created problems for himself. He needs to remove the blinkers. He needs to treat workers with respect. We all do. 

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8 Comments for Kay’s Blog: You don’t get me, I’m part of the union……:

2024-05-16 08:41:43

While unions do serve a place and are important for employee welfare, undoubtably they have also caused the down fall of some industries and their behaviour can sometime be politically motivated rather than for the benefit of the workforce just because they don’t like the party in power. Take the coal and steel industry. The unions pushed too far making it too expensive to produce in the UK. As a result global competition has forced many to look elsewhere for cheaper alternatives shutting down the UK industries. Take now the rail workers and junior doctors. Independent bodies have recommended pay which govt adopted (eventually) yet the unions won’t do a deal. Except the junior doctors in Scotland who did a deal with the SNP, mainly because they claimed the SNP had more socialist views. That’s not an acceptable approach. While unions have their place and protect workers, politically motivated actions that only hurt the general public is overly aggressive and doesn’t achieve the aim. There needs to be more balance and moderation in their approach rather than a militant nature just because they don’t like the colour of the govt in power. So I’d argue that trade unions at the moment aren’t healthy, and they certainly shouldn’t be so close to the Labour Party, they should be independent bodies there for the benefit of all, not just Labour voters.

Guy Flegman
2024-05-16 10:40:49

I was in a union once back in the 70’s and 80’s. Paid my dues and when we needed the union, there was no meaningful support, yet at the same time the head of the union seemed to become quite rich off of the backs of the workers. Needless to say I left the union and have not looked back. Workers just need to unite at a company to company level to get things done , and if the employer is not able to get you what you need look for a new job. We have plenty of laws that should prevent poor employment situations. As for Elon, he owns the business so should be allowed to do as he pleases and his success or failure will be at his door. Sadly in the UK a business owners cannot do as we want, as we are little more than custodians and it’s the government that seem to control the business with red tape and restrictions which always seems to keep the owner with one hand tied behind there backs. This probably explains why all the big innovators and billionaires who are making the biggest changes to this planet operate out of the USA and not Europe and the UK

2024-05-16 14:31:51

Lost Maggie Thatcher took the coal and destroyed communities and lives and didn't have the sense to introduce new uk manufacturing because she shipped it all abroad. It took Nissan to step in but the plant is only an assembly line. Similar with most industries uk reduced to a low wage low skill economy.

2024-05-16 17:03:59

Musk drives the world forward and most of the people fired at twitter did not contribute, e.g. DIE the same in most companies. It is why 80% of the staff could be fired and the site still works as a small dedicated and capable core do the work, which is the same the work over. Guy I have decided to stop employing people it is just not worth it As for unions they should be illegal, do not like your terms and conditions go find another job.

Kay Morrison
2024-05-16 18:31:35

Hi Kay What do you do in Harlow

2024-05-16 18:33:54

Unions are okay for local problems , but the big unions who run Labour will bankrupt the country and hold Britain to ransom. I had a union shop steward who caused so much trouble ,the only way the management could stop him , they promoted him into management . So unions are all.for themselves , they still get paid when the members are on strike.

2024-05-17 15:51:40

I must ask what the hell has this got to do with being a councillor! All this political crap for councillors is so wrong and lets face it none of these councillors are MPS anyone would think they run the country ! Utter nonsense

David Forman
2024-05-18 09:06:19

Labour's New Deal for Workers is a CON. Unite the union's general secretary stated on May 8: "It looks like all the warnings Unite made earlier about the dangers of Labour rowing back on its pledges for the New Deal for Workers have been proved right. This new Labour document on the New Deal, issued to the unions on Monday, is a row back on a row back. It is totally unrecognisable from the original proposals produced with the unions." It went to conclude: "This new document is turning what was a real new deal for workers into a charter for bad bosses." See Unite statement at https://www.unitetheunion.org/news-events/news/2024/may/labour-s-draft-new-deal-for-workers-now-unrecognisable

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