Latest post on Left Futures

On Trade Unions

Chris Dillow says in a post, after pointing out “membership has fallen to its lowest level since the 1940s”, that even Conservatives should mourn the demise of Trade unions.

After all this is about workers themselves collectively bargaining and not relying on the state to do all the hard work.

I can think of a few Conservatives myself, actually, with whom this will sit just fine. But I can tell you why it won’t sit well with the likes of George Osborne.

Firstly we cannot simply view him as a Conservative, rather, first and foremost, a bad chancellor. But is it out of economic incompetence or by design? This is the $64,000 question.

Secondly, his economic policies are not obliging us to look to ourselves while the state is stripped away, he is obliging us to saddle ourselves with debt.

I disagree with David Cameron when he says unions are a threat to the economy, the real threat is from driven down wages, inability to act on energy companies, the rising cost of living and unaffordable housing.

This generally falls under the government’s remit, but its trade unions who stick their necks out over these issues.

As Stewart Lansley in his book The Cost of Inequality has written, between 1980 and 2007 real wages in UK rose by an annual average of 1.6 per cent, while economic capacity grew by 1.9 per cent. In the mid-2000’s real incomes for a large part of the workforce was at best static and in the two years to 2007 wages barely kept up with inflation, while median incomes rose by a mere 0.4 per cent per year, representing around £1 a week. The share of the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent has been shrinking from 10 per cent in the 1980s to six per cent in 2002, and real incomes in UK have been near-stagnant since 2005.

When our wages can’t keep up with the cost of living we become blighted by debt. Outstanding personal debt stood at £1.410 trillion at the end of July 2012 and as the Telegraph recently reported: “the amount employees are borrowing to get through the month had risen sharply from £127 to £327 pounds since March.”

I understand what Dillow is saying about Conservatives and the big society-esque trade union movement, but the reason Osborne won’t mourn the fall in membership numbers and the loss of collective bargaining is that he seems to pursue the privatisation of debt.

Neither reliance on the state or ourselves (as in trade unions), but on those people that will lend us money.

One Comment

  1. Robert says:

    Unions you would think would be exploding with people wanting to join, sadly it seems not, people do not see Unions as a major asset, and sadly I think they will feel the same about Labour.

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma