Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where's Jack Jones When We Need Him ?

Alice Cook

Back in the 1970s, workers had a voice and it served as a bulwark against the more virulent forms of rapacious capitalism. When industrial unions were destroyed, that voice was gone and our democracy suffered enormously.

With the unions weakened, this country was comprehensively deindustrialized. Finance became the only industry that mattered. Today, trade unions only represent the public sector. Private sector workers have been disenfranchised and silenced by anti trade union legislation...

I would happy put up with a few extra days of industrial action to regain a degree of balance in our political discourse.



DJ said...

Well, that's just it, isn't it? Were the industrial unions 'destroyed', or was it just that every industry where the 'brothers' get a foothold implodes before you can say 'we know where you live'?

JuliaM said...

I wonder what Jack Jones would have to say about the rise in today's 'Neets'...?

Recusant said...

The unions were the flip side of monopoly capitalism, and just as destructive of the rights of the 'little man'.

As GK Chesterton said: "The problem with capitalism is that there are not enough capitalists". The same could be said about the unions.

TDK said...

It's a silly comment.

In the 1970s trade unions famous for strikes were mainly in the PUBLIC SECTOR (or else in businesses largely corrupted by recent or current public sector involvement). Thus the winter of discontent was marked by strikes throughout the public sector including firemen, waste disposal, hospital etc.

Other striking workers of the 1970s included

1. Miners 1972-1974
2. British Leyland
3. British Steel
4. British Rail

The idea that these people were defending workers in private industry rather than rent seeking is so lame that she should be ashamed to suggest it.

The only high profile private sector strike that I can recall is Grunwicks. Obviously there were many more.

bodo said...

I still remember the car unions going on strike in the 70s to prevent automation being introduced.
The managers even took them to Japan to see how cars were made there. Long lines of robots welding and bolting and drilling. 'This is what we're up against. This is the future'.
There were to be no redundancies - just vastly increased productivity. The unions vetoed modernisation. They wrecked the UK manufacturers. Red 'Robbo etc should hang their heads in shame, and personally apologise to every unemployed youngster in Brum, Liverpool, Luton etc.

Did you know, in 1960 25% of all the cars IN THE WORLD were built in Britain.

Bodwyn Wook said...

Have just notified this alert to Englishman, LUC, Libertatian Alliance, Anticant, Anna Raccoon, Edward, Merkin:

Sorry, this is perhaps 'off topic', but you may want to keep an eye on this EU mucking about with internet 'packaging':

Thud said...

Unions were always vehicles for opportunists and communist agitators... agenuine union of workers working in tandem with industry is a pipedream I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

One of the few good things about Margaret Thatcher was that she sorted out the unions. Unfortunately she threw the baby out with the bathwater and took out vast swathes of our industry with it.

If you look at the Union leaders today: Barber, Simpson, Dear et al, they are all cut from the same cloth as the 70s dinosaurs. Now though they have very little power.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Unions is that they tend to be full of people that cannot fight for themselves. Not very bright people. Unskilled and senmi-skilled. The world is overflowing with such people. So anyone being unskilled in the UK will necessarily be competing with the unskilled of China and India. Which is not too bad if you are happy to live the lifestyle of the unskilled worker of China and India but to be frank the climate here isn't conducive to living the simple life. So we gave up doing things which we couldn't be competitive in doing in order todo cleverer stuff that we could make good money in - like software, publishing, movie-making, music and what-not. Sadly it is a bit difficult to move directly from welding in a shipyard to writing software. But that should be OK because it is possible to move from being a welder to being a plumber. And all the software engineers need plumbers - because they aren't very good at plumbing. So when Labour got in power they could resolve the problems of the lands laid to waste by Maggie by moving the ex-welders from Glasgow to Guildford. But Labour felt that they would lose votes doing this - so they kept them just where they were and labelled them "disabled" and their kids as well. The people of Guildford still needed plumbers of course, so they shipped them in from Krakow.

Ivan said...

As a kid growing up in Singapore in the 70s one of my hobbies was to count the number of articulated Leyland trucks on the roads. At that time the port was being rapidly containerised and in the intial stages almost all the container trucks appeared to be from Leyland. But in just a few years there was hardly any Leyland trucks on the roads. They were being replaced by trucks from Japan and the rest of Europe. It was in precisely this period, when the British needed to hold market share that the interminable strikes at Leyland were taking place. Even though I was only a secondary school student then, I understood that the workers had elected to destroy their industry.
Later on it became convenient to blame Mrs Thatcher, with her alleged hatred for the working class for the derisory performance of British industry, but the truth is the unions killed every industry they touched, from ship building to cars to construction.