For the early part of the 20th century Trade Unions played a pivotal role in bringing wealth to every western nation on earth. Today they are in disarray, distrusted by conservatives and timidly backed by progressives, they have become a shadow of their former selves.
Conservative governments across the world have stripped Trade Unions of powers and with this, middle class incomes and conditions have stagnated and in many cases fallen to post industrial age levels.
Where did it all go wrong? Yes, conservatives are to blame for much of this, they are always to eager to listen to and promulgate powerful media jockeys who use worst case scenarios backed by large organisations dollars to get this message across. However, in the 1980’s Trade Unions had become too much of what they despised, secretive, corrupt, wasteful and over-reaching. They must get back to the fundamental principals of their founding.
Time for a Change
Trade Unions must now become open movements and by this I mean, they should be completely open to all members. If you look at governments and powerful industries today, they are all closed. Private companies act in secret from their shareholders, paying themselves exorbitant levels of income at the top only to pay as little as possible in way of wages and conditions to their workers. In short many work to conspire against their own shareholders and employees. Governments are pretty much the same, almost every deal with taxpayers funds is hidden behind ‘commercial in confidence deals’, whereas in the past private companies used to push governments for these types of arrangements, now governments are pushing them. It is time for a change, it is time for every major labor movement on the planet to come together under one overarching banner and celebrate it!
My 3 Step Plan for Trade Union Revival
Create a Trade Union Constitution
Yes, ok, sounds a little corny, but this constitution will band all world Trade Unions together under the one document. This would allow for amongst other things, open accounting; that all monetary transactions – be it corporate lunches, lobbying, fuel allowances, everything, all open to all members and the public at any time.
I have some experience in my family of understanding just how poorly Trade Unions treat member funds. If you want members trust, then you have to be open – even in the most minute details. Every aspect of the unions dealings must be open to scrutiny – good and bad!
Trade Unions have the worst marketing on the planet. Scaring works, but so does inspiring people and making them think for themselves, almost every middle class job in the world can give thanks the majority of their good conditions to the labor movement – own it. Create a history of the movement short documentary that spans all countries, and informs people just what you stood for and where you are going, some of the most inspiring movements of the early 20th century came from the unions and just what they did for people in horrific conditions and how this gave rise to the middle class.
Successive governments have stripped away one of the most valuable tools a union has had, compulsory membership! Those days are over, but there is a way! It is time to lobby governments to also split wages and conditions. Currently members pay unions fees and non members get the same benefits lobbied for by the unions. This doesn’t make sense and was designed to specifically cut union power.
Why should a non union member get the benefits negotiated by unions and their members? If you want to build your ranks then this must be a start for any negotiations of support. If progressive governments wont support it then withdraw your money and support until they will. Yes, you will have to endure your enemy for a few years longer, but you are dying a death of a thousand cuts anyway.
Finally, you will have to sell this to your members, but it is a sale worth getting.
Trade Unions have already lost most of their power and with this median income has flat-lined for much of the middle class, it is no coincidence that profits for large corporations are so large now that they control most governments. How else would mining companies in Australia be able to sell not paying higher taxes on ridiculous profits to so many people who would otherwise support the spreading of that wealth?
Time for a change of tactics before it is too late and you are left selling pencils on a box!