Monday, February 4, 2008

Revival of Trade Union

In the changing scenario the role to be played by the trade unions must also change if they want to survive.

To organize professional workers successfully and appropriately, unions need to understand their needs and concerns. The sense of collective solidarity is likely to be weaker than for other groups of workers, and there may be less of a tradition of union organization on which unions can build. Professionals expect unions themselves to be professional, and to deliver the services members need in an efficient way.

The point to understand is that there is competition for the services unions can offer. The table below seeks to identify the likely work-related needs which a professional worker – perhaps working on a contract basis rather than in a traditional employment relationship, perhaps working away from a central workplace, perhaps working for a number of different clients – could be expected to have. Whilst in many ways these needs resemble those which are currently met through the familiar industrial relations structures, other agencies could (and do) step in to service them: a problem at work could be guarded against in the same way, say, as a motorist arranges vehicle breakdown protection or a householder organizes a service contract for domestic appliances.
Negotiation on pay or contract fee

• Agents
• Commercial training courses in negotiating skills/assertiveness for individuals negotiating for
Health and safety advice

• Commercial telephone help lines
• Web based advice services
• Specialist consultants
• Doctors
Employment rights

• Attorneys/lawyers
• Specialist consultants
• Commercial telephone help lines
Disciplinary representation

• Attorneys/lawyers
• Specialist consultants
Taxation advice

• Accountants
• Commercial help lines
• Specialist tax advisory services
Social activities

• Web-based associations
• Informal networks
• More focus on neighborhood rather than
workplace socializing
Psychological and physical health

• Doctors/health services
• Private practice therapists

Pensions/social protection

• Private insurance companies
• Private financial advisers/brokers
Finding work

• Informal networks
• Web based services ( etc)
• Professional associations/member cooperatives

Providing access to training

• Educational institutions
• Commercial training providers
These service providers may operate as commercial ventures, or as non-profit professional mutual associations or societies. In each case, however, they are effectively competing with trade unions’ own services, and as a consequence threaten membership income and organizing muscle.

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