Thursday, February 07, 2008

I'm Alright Jack

I see the rumour and disinformation mill is running overtime on some other Thanet weblogs. I'm frequently accused of having a political agenda here but at least you know that I have a political leaning, and who I am. With this goes a sense of responsibility, when it comes to accuracy of reporting.

Before, I run out of the door to work, I would be interested to gauge readers opinions on the following, quite hypothetical story which has no connection with real persons or events, fictional or otherwise.

It's close the the end of the first decade of the 21st century. A powerful trades union insists on a 1950's 'closed shop' policy in large organisations that run essential services for the public. A smaller, rival trades union, believes, quite rightly perhaps, that it should also be allowed to recruit and represent workers on an equivalent basis. If this isn't granted swiftly it promises to take industrial action.

However, if proper equivalence is granted then the much larger union might then take industrial action and cripple the organisation as a consequence.

This reminds me of the plot of the famous 1959 Peter Seller's comedy, "I'm alright Jack". It's an invidious position for the employer to be in. So what would your solution to the problem be?


Anonymous said...

every worker deserves union protection at work by any union he or she chooses dont you think?

Anonymous said...

When I was working in a law office in London a few years a go there was talk of Barristers striking over fees. We laughed at the time, imagine their picket line over at the Temple.....patio heaters, prawn volavons and champers. PCS for me, you should be able to join anything you want.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Moores you say accuracy of reporting is someting that is important to you. So you have never put your own spin on anything in your political blog?
How about when you wrongly accused Jean Fleming of Birchington Parish Council of trying to pass herself off as a district councillor in one of her letters to a newspaper, when it was clear for every reader to see that this was not the case as she made it totally clear that she is member of B.Parish Council. She never used the word 'District' the word she used was 'Parish' As a Councillor one should not mislead the public. Mrs Fleming is still waiting for an written apology.


Tony Beachcomber said...

It is all down to how cosey the relationship is with the large union and "the large organisation".

Perhaps the smaller workforce feel they do not get the representation, therefore they should have their own union to represent there veiws.

It does seem strange why the large union should feel threatened, after all they will still be the largest union and it makes no difference to the way their members are represented.

Tony Beachcomber said...


I take it you are from the grey party come independant action or whatever it may suit at the next elections.
The point is your members have stood on issues at parish level on an agenda that is outside their remit as a parish councillor. They are entitled to their views, but by signalling they can change TDC policy because they are a councillor does give the impression they are TDC councillors.

DrMoores said...

I quite agree with the first comment and quite ironically, I fly the flag for one of the unions - two this year - over the annual Tolpuddle martyrs rally.

I have been a member of at least three unions in my time. I experienced a closed shop when working atthe Times Newspaper offices in Grays Inn Rd after I left school and the "Spanish practises" that accompanied these.

There is,I believe, no placed for a closed-shop mentality in the 21st century and people should be entirely free to join whichever union they wish and without feeling coerced, as I was once, into joining the TGWU or else!

Or perhaps I'm too liberal?

Eastcliff Richard said...

You say: I see the rumour and disinformation mill is running overtime on some other Thanet weblogs.

The proposed bin strikes have just been confirmed, Simon. For more info see my 'disinformation mill' here. As for the rest of the 'rumours', surely it will only be a matter of time!

Anonymous said...

Of course it's fine to join whatever union you want as long as you are prepared to accept the weakened position it puts you in as an employee. The more unions at one workplace the easier it is for the employer to exploit you.

DrMoores said...

As one might expect from ECR, the living, gloating, metaphor of all that's wrong with our society, - in regard to any claim for accuracy or sense of responsibility for what he writes - while the substance is interesting and describes both an employment dispute and a move by South Thanet, the finer details of his story are innacurate, exaggerated or both!

2+2 = 11 in this case!

So close but no banana!

Ewen Cameron said...

I think the situation our host is describing may not be widely understood, but it’s a real one, and a growing problem. It’s to do with power struggles between unions.

Let’s assume you are an employer of a large workforce. You support and recognise the concept of your employees having the freedom to join a Trade Union. Many of them join different Unions. But one union becomes clearly dominant in terms of membership amongst your workforce.

That Union approaches you, as they usually do, seeking exclusive rights to negotiate pay and conditions with you. Being reasonable and supportive, and knowing that the majority of your employees are members of that union, you agree to this. You get on fine, and collective negotiations run well, grievances on both sides are acted upon, the majority seem happy.

Later, one of the minority unions also approaches you, seeking the same exclusive rights. You point out that you cannot be exclusive twice. Granting what they are demanding means you would have to renege on the same rights as they are demanding to the larger union. The smaller union says it doesn’t give a flying stuff about that then threatens to call its members out on strike action if you do not comply.

Meanwhile, the larger union, having got wind of what’s going on, tells you it will call its own members out on strike if you even think about doing it.

You are caught in the middle.

What would you do?

Ewen Cameron

Michael Child said...

Thanks Ewen that was helpful I hadn’t got a clue what all this was about, I had wondered if the smaller union was exclusive to the people who do all the dirty jobs though.

Eastcliff Richard said...

...the finer details of his story are innacurate, exaggerated or both!

So, the finer details may be wrong, but the substance is true I take it. You're clearly spewing because the cat is out of the bag. Touched a nerve, have I?

And another great quote for my 'The Critics Rave' section. Thanks Doc!

Eastcliff Richard said...

But to get back to my first 'rumour', which has now been confirmed as fact, viz. the failure of your administration to avert industrial action which is going to cause serious inconvenience to the people of Thanet, surely your council's Chief Executive, who trumpeted the bringing back of waste and recycling 'in-house' as the best thing since wholemeal bread a couple of years ago, has some explaining to do?

DrMoores said...

Ewen has dealt lucidly with the strike issue. As for striking a nerve the answer is quite possibly "Yes" as I have a low tolerance for graffitti artists, whether they are the one that smear their messages on buildings or in your case, use the instrument of a weblog to loosely manipulate rumours to suit your own political agenda, because, let's face it ECR, your own partisan views and loyalties aren't exactly concealed are they?

Given the regularity of your postings, I can only assume that you are one more welfare sponger with an axe to grind and live vicariously through your imaginary character.

Now that's a nice quote!

Anonymous said...

Richard, Simon, Ewen. Did Michael have some sort of point?

Union Man said...

The issue I have with 'closed shops' is as a Union Member I strike or not according to the majority vote. If the majority say strike you should strike even if I have voted not to one should not cross a picket line, the democratic system has voted for a course of action. If you aren't a union member you are not allowed to strike (or if you do you're up for disciplinary procedures) but non-Union members (and any strike breakers) then don't complain at receiving the resultant benefits acquired by those of us who lose a day's pay and seek to make our mark. That is the downside of not having a closed shop.

DrMoores said...

I'm not quite sure of Michael's point, so perhaps he will clarify unless his questions have been answered. In any event I see the thread is "cooking" quite nicely.

It's a vexing question anyway and isn't going to do much good for the people of Thanet. a friend of mine - another pilot - is actually a trades union leader, so perhaps I should ask him!?

Eastcliff Richard said...

So what are my 'loyalties' then? I bet you haven't the faintest clue.

I do believe you are beginning to lose the plot. There are plenty of people who are genuinely claiming benefits on this island, many of them because they are not as fortunate as you. Are they all just 'welfare spongers' to you? Is that the official Tory line, or just your own blinkered, tiny-minded view of the world? Oh, and what are you up to at the moment? Taking flying tests? Ooh, that's so much more important and worthwhile than anything anyone else on the island could be up to, isn't it?

Nonetheless, whilst this is an interesting line to pursue, it is distracting us from your inability to give a straight denial concerning my 'rumours', and the benefit of your view on whether your council's Chief Executive has handled this dispute better than a private waste and recycling contractor might have.

So, any answers? Or just more invective?

Anonymous said...

The bottom -line in all this argument is that TDC must do its utmost to prevent disruption to the waste-collection duty it has to the people of Thanet. If that means consultation, involvement and flexibility so be it.
There is a growing rumbling of discontent about the Isle from the 'proles' who perceive our present local administration as a
an autocratic 'we know best' council which fails to consult or involve the community effectively; such practice might have been acceptable 100 years ago, but is bound to lead to poor PR and unnecessary grief and will inhibit the effective administration of Thanet at district level.

To help concentrate the minds of the incumbent party councillors is perhaps the idea that TDC will be lost to Labour and Independent councillors who are consulting at local level and are perceived locally as being the effective alternative to an autocratic council that is sadly out of touch completely with local thinking on far too many issues.

DrMoores said...

I don't have to use invective ECR, but working from your need to protect your anonymity, I wonder what you have to hide? and the time you spend online, encourages the simple assumption that you are indeed one more "welfare sponger" of which we have rather many. After all you don't appear to work at all. A "resting" Thespian perhaps?

In my own case, I have multiple streams of business activity and succesfully passing my "flying tests" may allow me to move sideways into supporting further commercial flying activities, such as the forthcoming Olympics.

I have every faith in the council's chief executive to handle these delicate negotiations with the unions properly. It is, after all an invidious position and TDC is, I understand, bound by a legacy legal agreement with UNISON.

As for the other rumours, why on earth should I offer you the credibility you clearly don't deserve by commenting? You are, after all, a non-person!

Anonymous said...

What is happening here is not exclusive to Thanet. The failure to feel the need to consult a workforce is a perk of growing unemployment. Employers have the option of making current employees redundant,just changing the job marginally,then employing younger,cheaper,less wised-up labour to replace them. This is common policy across the country.
The advantage from an employers POV is that if there are two unions,the less militant one can be negotiated with, an agreement settled, thereby undermining the action of the other. Was the miners strike that long ago?

Mr Friday said...

"I have a low tolerance for graffitti artists, whether they are the one that smear their messages on buildings or in your case, use the instrument of a weblog to loosely manipulate rumours to suit your own political agenda"

Mmm. Pot, kettle, black ?

If the strike does go ahead that will be a disaster. Satisfaction with TDC is already at a low ebb from most of Thanet without this adding to it.

Mr Friday said...

PS - The sight of one of our elected members dismissing Thanet residents as "welfare spongers" leaves a particularly nasty taste in the mouth.

But what do you expect from a party whose leader threatens other politicians in bars ?

DrMoores said...

So where did you quite brilliantly leap to any connection between ECR, "A" possible "welfare sponger" - as he can't prove otherwise and spends a great deal of time at his computer making-up rubbish about me and Thanet residents as "Welfare spongers?"

Mind you, should you happen to review the levels of welfare fraud on the island you might concede that such a thing exists?

As for the politics of the matter, I refer you back to the Minister, Caroline Flint's comments on such matters!

I would suggest you have an agenda of your own, given the thinly veiled allusion to the Leader of the council. I rather wonder if you might have any idea of the circumstances involved?

Mr Friday said...

"indeed one more "welfare sponger" of which we have rather many"

It doesn't take a genius to work out that you were referring to other Thanet residents in that statement and were not just talking about ECR.

There is a big difference in people claiming Benefits illegally and those claiming them as a right so the Fraud aspect is a complete red herring. Just for the record Dr M - what would you consider to be a "welfare sponger" ?

My only "agenda" is that I dearly want to see a competent Council which is efficient, represents good value for money and which is well run and led by Politicians who do not resort to the sort of behaviour I referred to before - regardless of the circumstances.

For the record, as I have said before, my political views on a national level are the same as yours Dr M but, on a local level, I will use my vote on behalf of any party who is genuinely improving the area in which I and my family live and I see previous little evidence of that at the moment from the current administration.

DrMoores said...

For your information Mr Friday, I appear to share the present government's view that anyone who chooses not to work and is supported by those of us who do work, is a "welfare sponger." I'm sure that the great majority of readers would agree with me.

As regards local politicians, I think that you can judge, as do I, that attracting anyone to do the job, given the visibly unpleasant nature of our local politics is going to be difficult.

This very crude level of debate, is only too clearly displayed on other "anonymous" weblogs. You vote - if indeed you did vote - for people like me, because you don't want to do the job yourself and you hope that we may be smart enough to make the right decisions in the face of very difficult circumstances.

And if new people like Cllr Cameron and I didn't put their time into a collective effort to make things better, who else are you going to call? Ghostbusters? ECR, OVIT, the Labour Group, the Thanet Popular Front. You know the answer I suspect.

James Maskell said...

I thought the Caroline Flint speech wasnt too bad, and certainly not as bad as what the press was making out. The idea is that there are a number of forms of deprivation and that they are interlinked. She was talking about the idea of outreach centres in estates on the doorsteps of those who most needed it. Something for something, as she said. Some of the speech sounded rather like some Conservative stuff about poverty and social responsibility.

She had a terrible press reaction but the speech actually had some good in it, which unfortunately is being too easily overlooked.

Michael Child said...

Simon I have just looked through this thread and I think the question my previous post begged was, is the smaller trade union exclusive to the people who do all the dirty jobs?

As for benefit scroungers, as a small shopkeeper in Thanet I am wondering if local and national government policy is now tailored to turn me into one.

Anonymous said...

Michael, in reply to your first question,

Yes !

Cllr. Mike Harrison

Michael Child said...

Oh I wondered Mike thought it could be something like that, however we still need out bins emptied, I’ve worked on a bin round so understand some of this.

Michael Child said...

Oh I wondered Mike thought it could be something like that, however we still need out bins emptied, I’ve worked on a bin round so understand some of this.

Anonymous said...

Tony Beachcomber wrote:

"It is all down to how cosey the relationship is with the large union and "the large organisation".

We know how important your words are don't we ?

When the interests of the sole union and the employer align.

The union, for example, does not want the activity of its shop stewards or the qualifications of its members questioned (Unskilled men masquerading as skilled men) And the employer wants to protect market share and, to this end, wants to avoid issuing a product recall the cost of which would bring the company down. Union and employer hand in hand.

The situation I described then reverberates up the echelons. The Prime Minister (Tony Blair at the time) does not want the terms of the Good Friday Decommissioning Agreement questioned (involving questions about IRA plans to infiltrate trades unions), so he is happy to sign up a Queens Award for Industry to the employer who should have issued a product recall.

And it happened to a company here.

If I could have been with the Electricians Union and not given Hobsons choice of Boilermakers, perhaps the public interest would have been best served.

I notice the top GMBU guy in Thanet is not replying ..... eh Tony.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when you were happy to publish well substansiated rumours on your site, as it gave you a scoop! Now it seems, that any 'rumour' involving the Tory Council, is not worthy and indeed, corruptive!

Oh how the might have fallen!

DrMoores said...

What "rumour" is this 12:36 and given that I quite possibly have a better view of what is true and what is not, why should I use my weblog to pillory the group to which I belong and with "rumours"?

Wht don't you go and write the same comment on David Green's weblog?

No, I think not but fortunately most readers will be smart enough to see the common sense of this!

Tony Beachcomber said...

Annon 8:14, Just to say I 100% support the strike and The GMB organiser Brian Skipper is a excellent Trade Unionist and has a first class record for fighting for the underdog.

DrMoores said...

Tony, Let me see if I understand you correctly.

As a died in the wool Labour Party supporter, you support a strike that will inconvenience the people of Thanet?

Wouldn't it be more sensible for the two unions involved to come to an agreement over the table and then approach TDC with a compromise, which allows it to recognise both without breaking a legal contract with one?

Or is it better to let them fight it out quite pointlessly on the streets of Thanet?

Mr Friday said...

Or couldn't TDC take disciplinary action against the staff for being absent without leave ? Two strikes (literally) and they're out. Hire new crews, the duties performed are not exactly like having to spilt the atom are they ?

Just a thought.

Tony said...

Michael, Cllr Harrison has given you the wrong answer, the GMB members are not only doing the "dirty jobs" as you call it. They have members in other departments and offices. It's plain to see that the Councillors of all parties are not very aware of the workforce.

Anonymous said...

Ain't it the truth!

Youknowwhoiamreally Henceforth:ykwiar

Tony Beachcomber said...

Yes simon 100%, I will even put money in the hat to support the strike.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Yes simon 100%, I will even put money in the hat to support the strike.