Saturday, October 03, 2009

How do we learn from other trade unions?

Squabbles between trade unions are rarely pretty.

I am pleased that the chorus of complaints about the GMB which used to be so frequent in UNISON meetings is now somewhat reduced (even if we're not going to get into bed together any time soon!) When trade unions fall out there is usually wrong on both sides and the beneficiaries are rarely the members of the unions.

So I am cautious when reading criticisms of a trade union from officials of another union.

However this US website, hosted by American hotel workers union UNITE HERE does seem to indicate that there are real concerns about the conduct of the leadership of the Service Employees International Union (to whom we in UNISON may be about to turn for help and advice).

There is much that we can learn from trade unions in other countries - but probably by cherrypicking the best of their ideas which we can apply to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, rather than borrowing a particular approach wholesale.

And there are fast growing trade unions much closer to our home in London WC1 from whom we could learn a fair bit!


Maxwell Pinto said...

Trade unions and leaders should act and perform as a team, with mutual benefits in mind. Employees should be given equity stakes in organizations, based on merit i.e. performance and attitude and they and the unions which represent them should be allowed to participate in decision making and profits. Caring and sharing, with mutual benefits, will increase the size of the pie and eliminate a short-sighted approach which focuses on the size of the existing pie and short-term gains at the expense of medium- and long-term gains.

Maxwell Pinto, Business Author: leadership, ethics, teamwork, women, trade unions, etc.

Maxwell Pinto said...

Optimistic? Yes, but Marx lived in the 19th century. We are living in the 21st century. Hopefully our thinking and attitudes have improved. Perhaps we should review the Japanese approach to dealing with trade unions. Many leaders seem to be good at discussing the importance of ethics, drafting appropriate codes of ethics, and ensuring that others follow these codes, while they themselves make false promises, unreasonable demands on employees, etc. Ethical leadership calls for morals, fairness, respect for all, participative decision-making (based on shared information), caring and sharing,etc., rather than emphasizing the importance of teamwork when the work has to be done and conveniently forgetting about the team players when profits have to be shared with them. Profits belong to all stakeholders, rather than to stockholders alone, and there is enough in this world for everyone's need, though not for everyone's greed. If leaders and unions bear these facts in mind they will face fewer and less serious problems when dealing with one another.

Maxwell Pinto, Business Author: leadership, ethics, teamwork, women, trade unions, etc.

Anonymous said...


Conduct of leadership is important and this post outlines some concerns about the industrial/organising approach adopted by the SEIU:

Is that the methodology behind the 3 Company Project?