Brown and the Union

The last time Britain was in really serious economic trouble under Labour was in the late 1970s. Huge debts led our country to borrow from the International Monetary Fund – the lender of last resort to poor countries. The Trade Unions caused chaos with strikes and the 1978/1979 winter became known as the Winter of Discontent. It was against this background that the public turned to the Conservatives. Part of the national mood was the understanding that Trade Unions funded the Labour Party and that the Labour Government was powerless to stand up to them. Gordon Brown has tried to give the impression that he opposes the BA strike as unjustified. Yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron asked whether the Prime Minister would advise BA workers to ignore the strike and work normally. He would not answer and wriggled uncomfortably as David pursued the point. This gives the game away – talk is cheap, but the Unite Union gives millions to Labour. If a strike is unjustified as Gordon Brown says, why not say to workers that they should work normally? The answer is that it would upset the close relationship between Union and Labour.

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2 Responses to Brown and the Union

  1. Hugh McKinney says:

    The unions cannot be left to hold the country to ransom as they were allowed to do before the Mrs Thatcher governments.

    It is not only bad for the economy but where is the sense in unions contributing to the failure of an individual company and theirt members suffering the consequential job losses that would result?

    Whose interests would the union be serving then?

  2. Oliver Heald says:

    Hugh makes a great point. Of course, there is talk of international unions backing the unite union.The law was reformed in the 1980s to ensure that secondary action did not take place within the UK, so now they are trying to go international. What used to happen under Labour was that workers in unrelated companies would go on strike in sympathy, creating mega disputes, in which union bosses put pressure on the workers at open meetings to vote for strikes by a show of hands. It was Margaret Thatcher who insisted on a worker’s right to vote by secret ballot and to keep strikes to trade disputes involving workers and their own employer. This made for better workplace democracy.

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