A Tory’s Personal Defence Of Unions

From personal experience, a young Conservative reminds us why Unions are still relevant and necessary.

Many times have I heard the saying that “the Left died at Orgreave”, or that we no longer need unions because we can place faith in employers and in government.

I find the latter hard to believe, even as a member of the Conservative Party. The amount of time you have to work for an employer before you can take them to an employment tribunal has been increased by a year. On top of that, introducing a fee for any official action shakes my trust that my rights in the workplace are being defended tooth and nail.

The former is the biggest sticking pole for me. We now live in an age where we are taught to trust our employer because our employer knows best. Even though we sometimes get a bad boss, the education system tells us that we should endure because jobs are too precious to throw away or that the boss is doing what he or she thinks is best for the company so it all works out in the long term. Do you know what I was never taught?

I was never taught about my workplace rights. No class prepared me for leaving Sixth Form and heading straight into a working environment. I didn’t know it was illegal for my employer not to give me a written statement, I didn’t know it was illegal for my employer to consistently delay and reduce pay, I didn’t know it was illegal for my employer to demand 50-odd hour weeks without any form of overtime and I didn’t know it was illegal to threaten to sack me for every mistake.

We have to ask ourselves, where do we expect this knowledge to come from? The critics of Trade Unionism would predictability state schools but being a school leaver myself I’ve proven there is nowhere near enough protection for people like myself.

This is part an attack on the education system of Britain, this is part an attack on an exploitative employer but this is mainly a thank you that we still have effective Unions. Although I agree that Union leaderships tend to be corrupt to the core, the grassroots are chiefly dedicated, hard-working activists.

EDIT: I witnessed an interview with a recently sacked member of the Grangemouth plant this morning where he says the boss who is in charge of the plant was smiling when he announced the job cuts – just keep that in mind when the Union blaming and bashing comes out to play.

Follow Gareth Shanks on twitter, @GarethShanks

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