Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quick, join a trade union!

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

You could argue that my membership of a TUC affiliated trade union (UCU) didn't save my job. You could also argue that without trade union representation my job wouldn't have lasted as long as it did, that our conditions would have been much worse still, and that our redundancy deal would have been the miserable statutory minimum. I haven't got much leeway before I must generate income, but I've got some. So, before you find your job under threat, and if you're not a member of a trade union already, join one soon. 

When hard times loom and sections of the media are under the influence of powerful people with right-wing agendas, you hear a lot about the 70s and 80s, the 'Winter of Discontent' etc. I remember those battles. At the end of it all Margaret Thatcher, friend of Augustus Pinochet, had trashed British coal and steel, the communities that depended on them, and much else besides, because she hated the unions so much. That's why we became a largely service economy. It was the importance of financial services to our economy that meant we were hit so hard by the recession. So join a trade union. If one thing changes history it's when all the people arrive at a point where they don't want to be fooled anymore.

You also hear in times like these how public sector pay and pensions are somehow to blame for a deficit that, as far as I can tell, started with sub-prime lending going bad in the USA (and likewise here), and then going global. Actually it was all those profligate primary school teachers and radical refuse collectors, along with the rest of the working public, whose money bailed the banks out by the trillions. So, just to correct any misapprehensions, my 'gold plated' pension might yield 25% of my just above average salary, i.e. maybe £8,000 a year. Boris Johnson, Conservative Mayor of London, recently described one of his salaries of £250,000 a year as 'chicken feed'. I suppose he is a public sector worker. Maybe that's where we're getting our bad reputation. When you've joined a trade union, ship your various vast salaries off shore to avoid tax, as the smart money does.

So is there trade union recognition at Fruitcake Miniature College? I suppose when we say to Fruitcake "No, we're just not giving you any more milk," the members vote before putting the bottle back in the fridge. But you can take an analogy too far, and the idea of fat cats getting too much milk is really rather stretching it a bit.

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