BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Do unions have too much power?

10:41 UK time, Thursday, 18 March 2010

British Airways is trying to resume normal services following the end of a three-day strike by cabin crew. What do you think of the workers' decision to strike?

The airline says it has reinstated a number of flights over the next four days that were previously cancelled. Some cancellations are expected on Tuesday, but BA says the majority of services in the next four days will operate normally.

The airline is reviewing its schedule for a further walkout between 27 and 30 March which is again about pay and condition changes.

Were you be affected by the three-day strike? Are you due to travel with BA in the next few days? Will you be affected by the upcoming walkout? Are you a member of a union? Are unions good for workers, companies and society in general, or are they too powerful?

Comments

Page 1 of 21

  • Comment number 1.

    If the the Unions manage to send British Airways the wall then yes, they have too much power.

    The precedemt of international industrial action isn't great either. In the future when could find our lives disrupted by disputes originating in other countries in which we have absolutely no stake.

  • Comment number 2.

    Compared to many European Countrys, British Unions have far less power.
    Which is probably why the UK Worker is sacked first, has lower redudancy terms and has one of the lowest pensions in Europe.
    Sadly, most British Workers don't have the backbone that the French, Germans and Italians have to stick up for the Jobs. Can you imagine Renault,Fiat or Mercedes workers allowing their jobs to be shipped to China without a long hard fight?

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes they do. If BA staff were poorly paid I'd have some sympathy, however as they are very well paid in comparison to staff at other airlines I do not.

    It is even questionable whether the actions of Unite reflect majority opnion amongst BA staff. UNITE are oursuing their own left-wing agenda.

  • Comment number 4.

    The unions in the U.K. have very little power now ,after the Tories anti union laws, which Nu- labour have not repeeled. Big business and the banks run the U.K today. The days of union power have long gone.

  • Comment number 5.

    In this case, the unions are clearly not good for their members. A serious possibility for the outcome of the BA strikes is that BA will go out of business and then none of the BA cabin crew will have jobs.

    Still, the members voted for it. If they want to put their jobs on the line, that's up to them. That's democracy for you.

  • Comment number 6.

    The problem is why did the goverment give them in the order of 4 million to restructure....

    When they gave the Labour Party between 11 and 12million.

    If you can give away over 10milion you dont need goverment funds!

  • Comment number 7.

    Unions have had their day.
    My experience is that the most useless colleagues end up as union reps because they have little else to do during working hours -because no one trusts them to do a good job, and they think it gives them a bit more job security. When something goes wrong these bozo reps are total chocolate teapots.

  • Comment number 8.

    I remeber the 70's and the rubish not being collected for weeks and the dead not being laid to rest.

  • Comment number 9.

    The Unions do not have enough power thanks to thatcher and the tories

    Big business has been able to treat us appallingly since the power of the Unions waas removed back in the 1980s.

    Until power is given back to the Unions we will continue to suffer.

  • Comment number 10.

    Modern unions no longer seem to care about the workers they represent, as they are merely proving-grounds for future politicians who never went to Eton or studied in Oxbridge. Having said that, without union protection, many of the rights of workers wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for historically strong trades union presense. The right to withdraw labour is somewhat old fashioned now, so personally I see no point of a strike, but a work to rule/overtime ban in this age of excessive working hours certainly does make an employer prick up their ears. Perhaps we need a new model of trades union and employer relationship, built around a common goal, rather than the bickering, point-scoring we have today. Only then will such labour disputes be a thing of the past.

  • Comment number 11.

    Unions can only do what their members vote on, the rubbish coming from the tories that we are heading back to 70s is scare tactics. Ive voted in two ballots over the last few years for strike action and we have turned both down. In the end its the members who have the power not Charlie Wheelan.

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes. Any political party willing to face down the Unions and bring striking to an end will get my vote. There are so many rights and laws protecting employees nowadays that Unions have nothing to do except when the annual pay review comes around. They demand unrealistic pay rises for staff already paid more than the skills required for their job and use blackmail as their method of negotiation. The have created a lazy culture in union members where who expect pay rises even when they are not performing at work. Pay rises used to be offered to staff who worked hard and did a good job, whereas Union members expect one every year without fail. I make it very clear on my cv when applying for jobs that I am not, nor have I ever been or ever will be a member of a Union.

  • Comment number 13.

    Put it this way: When Rover went bankrupt (and we all knew they were going down and we all knew this was the end for Rover for sure), they somehow won a special agreement with Gordon Brown in which they would be paid millions of pounds of tax-payers money. What the meida did not report was that this money had already been allocated for medical research. Now medical researchers do not have a union, and due to the structure of the scientists employment system (3-years post-doctoral contracts), are extremely vunerable to funding and cannot form a union themsleves (because unless you are ALL in the union, you are powerless and non-union members are the only ones who get employed). This has caused a crisis in mendical research. Many scientists have been unable to find employment, academic labs have gone down, there has been a brain-drain abroad of excellent scientists who's education was paid for with British tax-payers money, and the advancement of science and medicine has hugely slowed in this country. All to pay some cash, in the short-term, to some union members to prop-up a car business that was already doomed. Obviously medical researchers were specifically targeted for this because (A) they don't have a union that controls the Labout party and (B) the media are not interested in medical scientists because most of the population wrongly thinks that Doctors and Nurses are the ones who find most cures to diseases, and there all always a huge emotive outcry if Doctors and Nurses get a pay-rise that is not more than inflation.

    So the answer is - certainly, yes. The unions will selfishly control the government to the great disadvantage of others and the great disadvantage of this country. 100 years ago they were essential to protect the worker, but surely we have the legislation to do this now, with the need for unions? If not, why cant we make a bill of rights for workers, and disband the unions?

  • Comment number 14.

    On the news today we hear that Nissan are to build their new flagship product, the Leaf electric car, in the UK. The terrific amount of inward investment into our country shows how our workers are really seen abroad- by successful companies ie as very very good indeed.
    Yet that same workforce was seen by the old UK management as militant, lazy etc. But look at the difference. Japanese managers see their jobs as responsibilities not as accolades. They don't take huge salaries compared to the workers. They come up through the ranks, not put in place by the old boy network. Tey don't collapse at the first hint of competition, anf they don't maje people redundant at the drop of a hat.
    No the unions are not too powerful, it was always the useles, lazy incompetent, bullying and arrogant British Management at fault, and the inward investment proves it. Treat your staff as equals with respect, dignity and give development opportunities, and you get a lot back.

  • Comment number 15.

    Amongst other reasons, unions are there to protect the right of the employees from employers who try to arbitrarily make changes with out proper consultation. (eg The PCS union and pension rights). The company is there to make and save money which is often in conflict. This is why there are mediators.

    By the way I am not nessarily against change just the sometimes down right stupid ways my bosses try to impliment them.

    Do they have enough power? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    Am I a union members. Yes. Sometimes I strike sometimes I don't. It depends on if I agree with it. More often though, I don't because it's the employer who should be ultimately in charge and in control. But somtimes they get things wrong.

  • Comment number 16.

    I foresee fun & games ahead if Labour miraculously win the general election. Being in hock to the unions to fund their election campaign & then having to turn around and make the massive cuts necessary to the money pit that is the public sector, I predict lots of union bosses throwing their toys out of the pram & a summer of discontent.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am a member of a Trades Union. Most teachers are. I regularly receive surveys and get invited to comment on professional matters, and the union bases its representations to the government on the opinions gathered from the membership.

    However, I do not believe that a union as an organisation should support any political party - that's up to individual members. The dues I pay go to provide services for the membership, not to support partisan politics. After all, believe it or not, not all teachers are left-wing!

    When I did O-level history, my teacher was fascinated by social justice so I learned about the rise of trades unions, workers' rights and the development of democracy almost to the exclusion of everything else (if you were lucky you heard that there was a battle, on a good day you might find out who won!). Hence I know why it was felt necessary for the trades union movement to come into existence, and why it is still necessary today.

    I do not, however, like the 'them and us' mentality trades unionism can generate in the workplace - often there is a very negative view presented by union representatives who appear ready to complain about everything but never present a positive suggestion of their own. However I have also seen an excellent community within a college ruined by senior management who have promoted the 'them and us' mentality over the professional, collaborative and cooperative style in which we had previously operated - and that's what caused me to actually join a trades union, having before been content to rely on the professional approach!

  • Comment number 18.

    Surely we had this discusion 30 years ago.

    Remember Maggie Thatcher? the middle-class bigot who 'sorted the unions out' by simply closing down vast areas of the british economy!

    Unions have too much power, don't make me laugh!

    NOW I KNOW FOR CERTAIN THE QUESTIONS ON HYS ARE WRITTEN BY THE DAILY MAIL!

  • Comment number 19.

    The principle of a union to voice the opionions of workers is a good thing... But that's not what we have, we have wannabe company executives trying to flex their muscles thinking that they know how to run a company. If they as good as they think they are why arn't they running the actual companies???

    UNITE's stance is outdated, arrogant & militant. If the Cabin Crew don't like their conditions 'go work' elsewhere!!! Let someone else who is happy to work under what currently is one of the best working packages!!!

    I hope the next government breaks them, it's what this country needs so that they cannot hold the public who DONT support them to ransom and cause misery for so many.

    I was inevitable that providing so much funding to Labour there was going to be a conflict of interest, i'm surprised it's been allowed to continue. If it was a private company working on government projects there would be an investigation!

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes Unions do have too much power, especially when they are bank rolling the Governing party. Unions hold back progress you have only got to look at the postal service to see this. Sorting letters is in the dark ages and should be automated. As for the BA strike they will all loose their travel perks and serves them right when they are also thrown out of work, when the company has to downsize due to loss of business caused by the strikes. They are mainly hurting themselves there are plenty of other airlines I can use.

  • Comment number 21.

    The problem with most Unions is that, like most hardcore Communists/Socialists, they will show solidarity not because they agree with the circumstances around this strike, but because they "all stick together". The problem with this, is that when they are in the wrong, then they all make themselves in the wrong and destroy any moral authority they have, as well as giving unneccessary influence to rogue elements in their structure.

    Back in the 70's, these "rogue elements" merely existed to create as much havoc as possible, and the solidarity factor merely enabled them to do this. They would complain that something was wrong (sometimes as silly as not having warm bread in the canteen - no, seriously I'm not kidding) and walk out. Ordinarily, they'd be sacked but because they all walked out in "solidarity", industry ground to a halt and businesses went bust.

    Some rationality would do Unions a world of good.

  • Comment number 22.

    Unions have existed because of poor management.In the case of BA niether union nor BA managers have shown much effective management of their positions. So they are both rightly condemned.

    Unions do not have too much power. Rather it is the case that management is generally weak and incompetent so Unions act to help poor managements do their jobs. As companies improve so the need for unions decline which is seen in the privates sector.

    Only in the public sector that are bye-words for incompetent management do unions continue to hold sway. Even this may change as the public sector is slimmed due to the deficit.

  • Comment number 23.

    Its what you do with the so called power, power for powers sake is not the question.People seem to have forgotten the reasons that unions were formed,yes I know its a different world now and that maybe the cabin crew on BA are well looked after but remember this,don't think for one minute that the bad old days are gone forever cause they are not,conditions and benefits will always be under scrutiny by firms who want to screw every last drop out of their workers entitlements,this is not to say that BA are right or wrong and the same for unions its just the hard reality of life,no one wants to give up what they have,but I agree there must be a better way.

















  • Comment number 24.

    With BA already losing millions and thousands of customers due to be inconvenienced by the strike, the strikers obviously do not care at all about the success of their employer. Yes they maybe unhappy with the new conditions but at least they have a job which, I believe, comes with considerable benefits and a higher than average salary. They are just jumping on the bandwagon and being brainwashed by the union. I doubt many of them would want to leave BA if push came to shove as similar roles with other airlines pay half the amount that BA pay.
    Unions are a thing of the past, we have a much larger available workforce since we joined the EU and massive unemployment so there are plenty of people to take these jobs if the current BA staff don't want to work there anymore.

  • Comment number 25.

    Union management seem to be no different than any other management - they always put their own interests first with big salaries, bonuses and perks - whilst the untermensch who pay their subs will lose their jobs anyway as they force companies into bankruptcy through their pig-headed and politically-motivated strikes.

  • Comment number 26.

    The first post says "In the future when could find our lives disrupted by disputes originating in other countries".
    It's been happening for years - whenever there's a French dispute the ports seem to stop working, despite the EU supposedly being about free trade.
    And when the USA have a tiff with the EU our exports suffer, although we've got nothing to do with the dispute.

  • Comment number 27.

    Unions may have played their part in improving workers conditions in the early part of 20th century, but they have become too powerful by far and now cause too much disruption with strikes which are often over relatively minor matters. One less cabin crew on a long haul flight is not going to affect cabin service or safety in any way, just one person less at the two day stopover party in foreign climes.

    The fact that overseas unions now seem to be prepared to disrupt routine aircraft operations in support of what most consider an unjustified strike beggars belief. Unite seem to think that by making huge donations to Labour, the Gov't will stand back and let them do what they want. Gordon Brown has at last condemned their actions, but only after he was pushed into that position by transport secretary Adonis, without that he would probably have said nothing. In our current economic situation the cabin crew action cannot make any sense, just who will gain anything?

  • Comment number 28.

    Logically Unions don't make 'business' sense....but their constant battle with management had been the one and only thing that had ever helped to keep the divide between the rich and poor down. Sadly they were pretty much destroyed by Maggie Thatcher. Unfortunately people still foolishly side against unions believing that we should 'all' be better off by destroying unions and preventing strikes but the fact is the only people who are ever better off are the bosses and the business owners.

  • Comment number 29.

    Yes, unions do have a place, but not at the forefront of a company - that's the job of the Leadership Team. Unions should negotiate in this case they refused to sit in the same room as other unions which is why 12 months on, BA are at the stage they are now. The unions have blocked all attempts to come to a resolution.

  • Comment number 30.

    Unions do not have nearly enough power to stand up for workers' rights against those powerful greedy
    employers who exploit their employees ,with no regard for their welfare, so as to squeeze the last penny of profit possible from their workers' labour. Thatcher's government started the deliberate weakening of the Unions and our current Government has done nothing to restore the balance of power between Employer and Union. The fact that USA's most powerful Union has stated support for our own Unison should be a "wake up call' to Government and employers in the UK.

  • Comment number 31.

    I currently live in Gibraltar. The trade union movement here has not changed since the militant Scargill days of the 70s.
    You should see some of the pay/conditions that some of the public sector workers have managed to negotiate - with the help off the rather too powerful unions.
    Some postal workers work as little as three hours a day and earn around £33,000 p.a....AND they were going to go on strike because their contracts didn't actually specify that they had to open airmail bags. Madness.

  • Comment number 32.

    The power of the unions was curbed by the Thatcher government as the unions were holding the country to ransom.

    We were making poor quality cars that no-one wanted, uneconmic and unproctive coal mines, to name just two industries that the powerful unions helped to destroy.

    No 8 is correct, the joys of a Labour Government and the unions.

    We seem to back there again, will voters never learn.

  • Comment number 33.

    I can understand why the BA staff are prepared to strike. But its wrong of their union to expect to preferential treatment from the government, just because they donate large sums to the Labour Party. If the management were more understanding, then no strike would have been called. Both sides should meet immediately to obtain a resolution, and avoid the strikes.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am in Unison. I do not agree with BLOCK VOTES. This means that when i vote my vote may become invalid should i vote for another party. And why? are they allowed to back MP's and suppport them. This should be made illeagle NOW. I grew up in an active Union family who would march for everything. I am ashamed of that history as it has made this so called labour party what it is today. Revolting

  • Comment number 35.

    "Do unions have too much power?"


    Yes.

    They (one or two in particular) definitely have the power to disrupt peoples journeys to work, and holidays where they need to commute.

    It's about time strikes by workers of companies who operate transport that the public use, were made illegal.

    Then the public can use transport links safe in the knowledge they won't be caught out by a strike and lose money or incur further expense.

  • Comment number 36.

    Quite a loaded question.
    The Unions created the Labour Party (some members and non elected dom members appear to have forgotten that)
    The Unions donate money to the labour party from membership fees. It is taken automaticly from these fees unless one decides to op out, which requires a mandate being signed (note: not the otherway around)
    As has been found out in the past by previous Labour Goverments, politics and unions do not mix. One cannot have their cake and eat it.

    Unions, which are the work force, are there to protect themselves from over zealous employers. A union is not a seperate identity, from the work force, the leaders are all elected from the work force and yes they advise which way an action can be taken. All actions by a union have to meet the legal requirements so they do not break the law.

    From the sidelines, BA management have got themselves into a pickle with Unite. It reminds me of the 70s when employers thought they held the whip hand and do what they like to employees.

    I see WW has just supposedly asked to meet the unions. This is an old age trick to say we tried if it doesnt work. I suspect no agreement will be met this late, (never say never) and WW will say its the unions fault trying to get public support. Just remember WW destroyed the union at Aer Lingus.
    So in both camps we have mountain v mountain,
    For the sake of the union they have to win as failure will mean the largest union around will probably have nowhere to go. Membership will start to dwindle as the membership will feel let down.
    If WW wins then BA Union employees will be targetted afterwards. Dont say no that cannot happen it will, not immeadiately but it will even if the unions win. Members will be weedled out slowly.




    GB said the strike is deplorable, I would say envertable, but note he didnt day the Union was delorable.

  • Comment number 37.

    "thelevellers wrote:
    The Unions do not have enough power thanks to thatcher and the tories

    Big business has been able to treat us appallingly since the power of the Unions waas removed back in the 1980s.

    Until power is given back to the Unions we will continue to suffer."

    How on earth are you suffering? There is more legislation now protecting workers than there has ever been.

    Thatcher broke the stranglehold the unions had so that the country could thrive again.

  • Comment number 38.

    What are the BA employees supposed to do? Stand by whilst their jobs are eroded and their terms and conditions downgraded? How would any of you like it? BA used to be a premium airline with premium staff and correspondingly higher costs and wages. Then along come all these cheapo airlines with pilots on minimum wage and toilets at a three quid a go, and suddenly the glamour attached to flying goes out of the window and everybody expects to fly to Prague for £30. All in the space of less than a decade. Come on people, have some sympathy! The airline's on its knees anyway, but that's no reason to go down without a fight. When all of our jobs have been optimised, outsourced and downgraded and we're all on £5 an hour whilst the bankers bathe in champers then we'll know how BA feel now. And then nobody will be be flying anywhere.

  • Comment number 39.

    Unions have far too much power.

    They were vital when they were first set up, but now we have masses of regulations to protect employees. Employers often struggle to work with all the legislation, which can often drive businesses to close before they would otherwise have had to. Unions just make things even worse.

    Often they encourage their members to be more militant than necessary, and nearly always cause an 'us and them' mentality. The reality is that most employers nowadays want their employees to be content in their jobs, and if there are cutbacks, it is to save the business, and other people's jobs, not out of greed or viciousness, which is how the unions portray it.

    What we need now in this country is more legislation to protect employers!

  • Comment number 40.

    No they do not. They never had much power, it is simply that the media are obliged to report any degree of organization on behalf of working people in this negative way. What little power unions had has been whittled down by laws passed over the years to give more power to management. The unions are on the fringes of society and are excluded from participation on major economic issues. We have an entire system of industrial relations designed to provide management with sufficient power and look where they have gotten with it.

    But the really big joke is that within the working sphere there is a great need to involve the brains and collective skills of the workforces. Ifr anything the unions help to keep workers out of this managerial prerogative. But if the workforces were to obtain full control over their unions then look out for very serious unrest.

    As for BA strike - where I am sure the BBC wants to blame the unions - remember that they have complied with all laws, which is more than we can say for those who pass these laws.

  • Comment number 41.

    9. " Until power is given back to the Unions we will continue to suffer "

    (to the tune of the Red Flag) Damn right! How dare I suffer weekly bin collections paid for by a council tax I just about afford! I demand massive crippling strikes leaving mountains of rubbish everywhere until unskilled labourers in the public sector are paid the same as doctors from massive hikes in council tax bills! Only when I'm paying my binman three times what I earn will my suffering be over!

  • Comment number 42.

    Airline worker in France, Germany & the US want to help kill BA, I am sure their employers will back them.

  • Comment number 43.

    The concept of brother workers banding together to better their working conditions and pay was as essential as it was worthy.
    However we are now in the 21st. Century and unions no longer hold the moral high ground.
    A few militants can too easily bring a company to its knees.
    With regard to union funds propping up a political party - this is fine as long as every single member of that union is happy for his/her money to be spent in that way.
    There is a huge case for the funding of all parties to come from the taxpayer. This would stop the hue and cry that inevitably occurs when elections are close.

  • Comment number 44.

    Unions are an excellent independent focus for representing employees interests with their employers. They are not responsible for managing businesses or in creating juicy political propaganda on behalf of outdated Trotsky-ite class warfare. In short if you see a union in a newspaper then its probably doing more harm to its members than the business they work for. In the current circumstances this nation is bankrupt and anyone who has a paying job is lucky, even an abusive low paid job. Remember we wont get back to full employment until at least 2016. Anyone who loses their job now is facing 5 years to the rest of their lives out of work. Contemplate that the next time the union tells you to go on strike.

  • Comment number 45.

    So the Labour party takes donations from Trades Unions, the Tories take donations from business both domestic and foreign and for the last few years have been largely bankrolled by a single billiomaire.
    Union links with Labour are only being played up at the moment because the Tories have beeen so evasive over Ashcroft's tax status. The BA dispute is high profile, so is an ideal opportunity to deflect attention away from what is proving to be an embarassment for Cameron and his chums.
    Factories closing down, production being moved overseas, workers being made redundant, the union funded Labour Governnment takes no action. The banks drive themselves into the ground, the union funded Labour government gives them billions in a resue package.
    So who has the power?

  • Comment number 46.

    Unions generally don't seem to have enough power - they certainly haven't in recent years, anyway. You only have to look how much the rich and powerful have risen and the ordinary workers have been trampled down to see that. Most union attacks seem to come from people who'd used slave labour if they could get away with it (or the only reason they don't is because then they'd have to feed and house them). Unions can never have too much power whilst such people are in charge.

  • Comment number 47.

    It is only natural that ordinary people should tighten their belts and work longer for less so that their betters can continue to become wealthier through share value increases which require absolutely no effort.

    We were much better off without Trade Unions - well we rich people were, it cost hardly anything to employ children to work in coal mines, whilst we watched the money roll in.



  • Comment number 48.

    Sadly the unions no longer have the power they need to protect their members from the overbearing nature of some employers
    the rights and wrongs of the BA dispute have doubtless influenced replies to this question but trade union power has been emasculated since
    margaret thatcher wass brought to power in the late 1970s after the trade unions did have too much powersince the Banks caused this latest recession the thatcherite adage of keep quiet you are lucky to have a job has retuirned to prominence and the rights of ordinary working folk are once againbeing abused by some, but by no means all employers.
    the fact is the council house selling con of the thatcher era saddled thousands ofworking folk with a mortgage meaning they could no longer afford to support trade union action for fear ofhaving their homes taken off them due to mortgage arrears which is why though many deride europe the eu is actually doing more than the tuc to uphold the rights of workers in the work place whether white or blue collar

  • Comment number 49.

    At 11:55am on 18 Mar 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:
    "The unions in the U.K. have very little power now ,after the Tories anti union laws, which Nu- labour have not repeeled. Big business and the banks run the U.K today. The days of union power have long gone."

    I would add to that the reason why we have no industry left is because the tories made it easier for British workers to be sacked and their work moved to other european companies.

  • Comment number 50.

    UNIONS - Don't make me laugh - They have little or no power unless your public sector or transport.....

  • Comment number 51.

    The reason BA will fail in the end is down to pathetic leadership of Willie Wallace a man who could not care less about anything but his huge pay packet. Its the overpaid managment in this country that needs sorting out not the unions

  • Comment number 52.

    Antony Forst wrote:
    I can understand why the BA staff are prepared to strike. But its wrong of their union to expect to preferential treatment from the government, just because they donate large sums to the Labour Party.

    What an odd comment - Just look at private businessmen/women who donate they expect the Earth and mostly get it! Why should the unions be any different?

  • Comment number 53.

    I can't believe that BA workers will actually be stupid enough to be puppets of Unite. They will lose the fantastic perk of extremely cheap flights for them and their family and ultimately probably lose their jobs. Surely, people who are intelligent enough to be cabin crew at BA are not so stupid that they can't see through the control freak, power crazy, out of date union staff who run Unite.

  • Comment number 54.

    Thatcher did a marvellous job removing power from the unions. Surprise surprise, 'New'Labour have handed it all back. You only have to look at the number of strikes that have taken place recently to understand the problems this causes.

  • Comment number 55.

    Unions were desperately needed at one point in the development of the industrialised world. Their function was clear and highly moral - to obtain better working conditions and pay for their members. However, they grew into a monster which began to devour the very industries in which their members worked and British jobs were lost because companies became so unreliable owing to the immense amount of time lost to strikes. UK car industry - anyone remember that!? For this to happen again would be suicidal. Heavily politicised unions, with blinkered leaders, pulling the strings of their favoured political party can and will do immeasurable damage to what is left of our economy. Never forget that where we screw up, China and the eastern economies will clean up. Union members should think very very hard about how they are allowing themselves to be used!!

  • Comment number 56.

    Some unions do have a lot of power as do some businesses, its when you get the two going head to head that things can go so badly wrong.
    We forget though unions like unite are not the only ones with power, look at the BMA or the Law society they weald to much power yet we have no one saying a word against them!!
    just because members of unite are service workers does not make there position any less important.
    However if a strike ballot takes place I would like to see the number who vote in a ballot must be over 80% of members so we can get a better idea on who truly wishes to strike, as it stands a minority can vote for strike action and if that minority is saying 65% wish to strike than out they go, while the rest who did not vote suffer as do the public.

    The employers such as BA should also be held to account if they abuse there power as much as the unions.
    We need balance not continual conflict.

  • Comment number 57.

    Its a myth, conjured up by those who want to see a total end to unions. Started by the thatcher gang, this is probably the last chance that UK unions have to demonstrate to the establishment that we, the people are the real owners of this country, not them and their rich and powerful chums.
    I would like to see a national strike by everyone in order to tell the politicians and their mates that we will not take what they give us any more. Fat chance of that happening though!

  • Comment number 58.

    No.

  • Comment number 59.

    Strange how workers across the western economies can see the extent to which British employees rights in the workplace have been virtually eliminated, and yet we Brits happily indulge the gross incompetence of massively overpaid unethical people we refer to as business leaders or the body known as the financial services sector.

    Contrast the sabre rattling approach of Willie Walsh (whose mistakes and poor judgement has cost BA dearly) with the ethos of Nissan in the north east where british workers skills are being harnessed effectively by an enlightened management team as pointed out at14#.

    The banking sector could hardly be described as a hotbed of left wing subversives but just look at the carnage that it's wreaked on the rest of us because of the greed and duplicity of investment bankers and senior management.The same lot that subsequently whinged about the level of their tax payer subsidised bonuses!

    All the hot air being generated about unions looks absurd when paced into context.

  • Comment number 60.

    unite is not for purpose, how can any union which claims to represent ordinary working people in this country give money to labour a party in government since 1997 which has systematically destroyed the value of poeple working for a wage by their ever increasing handouts to the feckless and bone idle paid for by stealth taxes and a myriad of other scams that hit those who work for a living, not that ba are much better the openly discriminate against travellers going to and from scotland as is proved by their cancelation of flights to and from scotland during the strike

  • Comment number 61.

    Sack the moaning strikers and bring in new staff!

  • Comment number 62.

    The only power the unions have is the power their members give them.
    So should the unions be held responsible or the indiviuals within the union. I would say the latter

  • Comment number 63.

    The power anybody has depends a great deal on the amount of money they have.It is the same with the unions.The more money, the more power.

  • Comment number 64.

    Absolutely!!! You only need to look at how every year the tube workers unions bring one of the biggest capital to its knees to see that they wield their power carelessly and need to have their wings clipped. The fact that with their power they have managed to secure a 45K wage packet, far above what nurses and teachers get, for what is unskilled labour perfectly illustrates that. Transport workers should be treated as essential workers like doctors and be banned from striking. If you are not happy doing that job, then choose another but dont inconvenience millions of others for your greed!

  • Comment number 65.

    Its no coincidence that Unions are raising their ugly outdated heads again its always the same when we have a labour Government. However now with the interference of Europe we shall see more unions drawn into the conflict in support; Why else would the EU want union members sitting in boardrooms under the guise of Council Workers who in effect have the say in what happens in the respective company.

    I also find it strange that a Union Leader now has a 6 figure salary and benefit package still gets paid while its members go on strike and can give money to governments, surely this money paid for by the membership should be for them and not used as bribe money to the government of the day. Its outrageous for a Union "Baron" state that they have have 25m GBP warchest to fight the Tories if they get in! These dinosaurs should realise that with unemployment running at 10m (disregard govt figures as again they are wrong) there are plenty of people who can fill the jobs the strike action are jeopardising. Unions had there day when the leaders were part of the workforce instead of some out of touch suited boss.They are still trying to fight a 19/20th Century class war and like the all other strikes it will be the workers who suffer by losing their jobs

  • Comment number 66.

    Ahh... the Unite union (and Unison et al) are all left wing socialist organisations. Whilst they donate money to the Labour party, they also donate money to the Socialist Workers party.

    They believe that we should live in a world without borders. They believe that there is no such thing as nationality or race; rather that we are all the same.

    They follow Marxist dogma like a religion, and are dedicated to doing all they can to turn the UK (if not the whole world) into a socialist / communist regime.

    Now, do they have too much power? Well, the trouble is that if they stopped donating to the Labour party, then the Labour party would collapse. Therefore, the Labour party has to accommodate the desires of the unions in order to continue to receive donations.

    So, I would say that yes, indeed the unions do have too much influence (and therefore power) over the government.

    Of course, whilst it is unlikely that anybody could ever change the attitude of the unions, anybody could actually do their part to ensure that we do not ever again have another government that is so influenced by Marxist cranks.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm not aginst Unions per se, but when a Union like Unite, which gives Labour 40% of it's funds, gets £millions of taxpayers (ie yours and mine)money back as "reorganisation funding" then I smell some smoke.

    That a Union can also influence Government policy because of its threat to withdraw funding is also wrong and that Unite is pushing Union candidates into safe Labour seats for the next GE also smells slightly of burning.

    If Maggie had not stopped the miners then Arthur Scargill would have been running the Country & that is plainly wrong. She had to win or we would have been ruled by the unions, as was the case with the previous Labour Government. Strikes every week and public services brought to a standstill.

  • Comment number 68.

    Too much power? Unions don't have enough power. Thanks, Thatch.

  • Comment number 69.

    Unfortunately many people in our society are too ignorant of our social history to understand that it was the unions that gave them the working rights they enjoy today and many only see how their own personal lives are being affect by this strike.

    Without the Unions we would all be working 12 plus hours a day, 7 days a weeks with Christmas day off if you are lucky and there would be no sick pay etc and I have total respect for those Countries like France who are prepared to stand up and fight for their jobs and rights unlike the weak self centred nation we have become and I wonder how many of those who are anti the strike would react if they were called into the office and told their pay was being cut etc simply to make bigger profits for faceless shareholders and of course bigger bonuses for the management.

    Could you tolerate a 5 or 10% pay reduction?

    There is always two sides to every story and I am sure that there must be room for manoeuvre on both sides and we should leave it to the experts like ACAS to resolve and not take sides.

  • Comment number 70.

    In my experience, Union's power is too great for the modern economy. I've seen it wielded to preserve the jobs of people who openly admit they slack off because they know the Union will prevent the company doing anything about it. Who suffers... other workers (union members at that).

    In the case of BA, I see their actions as a positive abuse of their powers. Their market is not a monopoly, and cabin crew could leave for a competitor. The reason they are striking is because they know they cannot get a comparable package from a competitor, and hence can only preserve their existing, overly generous one, by industrial action. However, the damage being inflicted on the company is jeopardising the jobs of BA staff who are not cabin crew, and further risking the future pensions of staff and ex-staff (bearing in mind that the pension protection fund does not cover all pension benefits).

    It's all about greed and power, only here it is a group of "workers" and their union reps who are the greedy and powerful. The price will be paid not so much by any senior management figures as by other workers.

    If I managed cabin crew for another airline and had ex-BA cabin crew applying for jobs because BA went under, I would almost certainly rule the whole group out as potential recruits because of their collective position here. And that means that even cabin crew who are Unite members but voted against the strike will suffer for it.

  • Comment number 71.

    Unite is lead by Jack Dromey Mr Harriet Harman. Dromey has just been selected for the safe Labour seat of Erdington. Gordon Brown has condemed union action. It looks like Jack is going to be disobedient to Gordon before he even becomes an MP

  • Comment number 72.

    A union has to ballot its membership to create a political fund, there has to be a ballot every ten years to continue a union's political fund. The fund is created from a proportion of union membership dues. Every union member has the right to contract out of the political fund.
    All of the above required by legislation brought in by Thatcher's government. The expectation was that the union's membership would vote against having a political fund, ending an important source of Labour Party funding. It didn't happen.
    A shareholder in a company has no say over the political contributions made by the company they have shares in. They cannot 'contract out' from the firm's political contributions, there is no requirement for a company to consult its shareholders in whether is should make political contributions.
    You could argue that a union donation to Labour has more legitimacy than a business donation to the Tories.
    Shows where the bias in on the question of political donations.

  • Comment number 73.

    There is a strange inconsistency amongst those who so readily condemn unions yet continue to enjoy the benefits won on their behalf, directly or indirectly. Rights, such as holidays, sick pay, health and safety, tribunals, pension, etc. It's all right to assume those as “natural” without giving credit where it‘s due.

  • Comment number 74.

    In 1998, the Labour party manifesto claimed it would overturn the anti-trade union laws that were introduced under the Thatcher/Major Governments.

    Well we're still waiting.

    In fact these laws are now being more strenuously applied. Taking unions to court over technicalities for example, making the hoops that balloting members jump through even more difficult, making it extremely difficult to obtain a valid legal strike ballot. And then even if one does happen the media act as if it's just some crazy lefties upsetting the rest of the staff, and are always quoting the tosh from the very people the strikers are fighting against! Its rare to have an in depth report from a picket line, but a soft interview with the company chairman is almost mandatory.

    It is a very difficult decision for a worker to enter into a strike, it means a loss of pay, and there is a lot of fear of retribution, Union Reps are often singled out, there are a number of Reps currently being harassed, dismissed, or intimidated because of their legal union activities, even in some cases by their own union bureaucracies, so it's easy for companies to feel empowered and crack-down on staff pay and conditions, more recently using the "difficult times" as an excuse, and the Labour government offers no support, infact most often it acts in the interests of the employers.

    So do the unions have too much power? Potentially yes they have power, but too much no, it would only be too much if it was used irresponsibly, but to get even a sample of what they deserve the union bureaucracy's need to extradite themselves from the Labour Party, and stand up for their members interests.

    But currently no, union members pay into political funds to support the Labour Party, but seriously they don't get a lot back, even clause 4 that gave them power at the Labour Party conference was taken away, even Party member delegates don't get have a look in at Labour Party conferences these days, so there's little chance of the Unions being allowed a voice

  • Comment number 75.

    The idea of a union used appropriately remains a good one...BUT the trouble is it's often abused by people who have their own agenda, which is quite often not in the interests of their members.

    Unions should be a way for a large workforce to collectively communicate with senior management, BUT it should NOT be a way for some workers to tell senior managers how to run the business. Fair enough, voice your concerns over pay and conditions, and IF your company does anything illegal the unions can represent you in a tribunal/court, BUT if the company has not done anything illegal (employment law wise) you have NO RIGHT to tell them how to run the business.

    In BA's case, they are company who are loosing MILLIONS every month, and if it continues this way EVERY BA worker will be out of a job entirely. BA have stated that there are necessary cuts to be made to ensure their survival, and i'm sure if they were planning on using illegal methods to make these cuts they'd be hauled into court, BUT as far as I can tell they're just trying to make good LEGAL business decisions.

    I'm not a senior manager or a union member, but I have been in meetings with union members and senior management on big construction projects, and one thing that always gets me is that the union members come across as having a real chip on their shoulder and pushing for fight, even when there's not really one to be had. They spend their time constantly looking for the smallest of things to complain about. It's almost like they're sole purpose is to be complaining about management. In my opinion that's not how it should be, and the unions are poorer for it...apart from people such as Bob Crow who earn thousands of pounds from it - that's where the sinister 'agenda' comes into it. I don't trust union bosses any more than I trust senior managers.

  • Comment number 76.

    Do Unions have too much power? No, the people who have too much power are the greedy, unelected and unaccountable incompetents who run major businesses; the unelected and unaccountable journalists who believe that they have the right to run the country via their propaganda - sorry, news reporting activities; the unelected and unaccountable bankers who believe they are more important than anyone else in the universe and the elected but still essentially unaccountable politicians who, on the say-so of a minority of the voters, do just as they damn well please without reference to anybody. Oh yes, and let us not forget the evil unelected and unaccountable EU. Compared to the foregoing, the Unions have as much power as a snowflake. Nobody goes on strike for fun, and even back in the 1970s pre-Thatcher, only a few did (mainly bored car workers - there was a study about it at the time, carefully sat on by the right-wing press). Strikers get very little by way of strike pay and no-one strikes on a whim. I was a Union member and know what I am talking about. As a then Shop Steward I once memorably spoke out against a proposed strike, politically-motivated, and the majority agreed with me so we didn't strike. I also do NOT vote Labour and never did. The pity of it is that the Unions ever allied themselves with the Labour Party, an organisation which has never done very much for the "working man" and now does not even pretend to have any interest in him.

  • Comment number 77.

    Lewis Fitzroy wrote:
    The unions in the U.K. have very little power now ,after the Tories anti union laws, which Nu- labour have not repeeled. Big business and the banks run the U.K today. The days of union power have long gone.

    Tell that to the Bob Crowe's of this world. Nu Labour has been more lenient to unions. Do you really want to go back to the 70's when we went cap in hand to the IMF because we were in such dire financial straits. The reason not competitive with our neighbours because the unions were having a laugh thinking they could keep their members in jobs without having to work for them. A lot them were in manufacturing there not there now. Do the unions have too much power - they still prop up a moribund goverment.

  • Comment number 78.

    Unions are a vital link between employee and management that should prevent managements riding rough shod over their employees. Heads of companies since time began have always been reluctant to reward their employees voluntary with a wage that identifies their worth and effort, whilst they make sure they reward themselves, and in many cases way above what they the management are worth. As a last resort the only option employees have is to withdraw their labour. There are many people out there ( I call them the 'I'm alright brigade' ) who don't see things beyond there own cushty world, you know them, well paid, self righteous, pompous, just don't take the time to consider that many people unlike them are paid well below their worth. At the moment we are in a phase where company bosses are jumping on the recession band-wagon, denying their staff cost of living increases, even cutting salaries whilst rewarding themselves and in many cases where the recession hasn't affected their business. Arthur Scargill did the union movement the greatest dis-service in it's history by not taking a ballot of it's members for strike action, had he done that, the BA employees wouldn't now have Willie Walsh threatening them and making scabs out of other members of his workforce.

  • Comment number 79.



    “While people who a desperate for power end up pushing themselves to the top, unions are made up of people who want power, but are not desperate enough to actually work for it”


  • Comment number 80.

    2. At 11:53am on 18 Mar 2010, toycollector wrote:
    "Compared to many European Countrys, British Unions have far less power.
    Which is probably why the UK Worker is sacked first, has lower redudancy terms and has one of the lowest pensions in Europe.
    Sadly, most British Workers don't have the backbone that the French, Germans and Italians have to stick up for the Jobs. Can you imagine Renault,Fiat or Mercedes workers allowing their jobs to be shipped to China without a long hard fight?"

    Complete rubbish - most private pensions with UK companies are pretty competitive, and I certainly know mine is. You're confusing this with poor state pensions. British workers have some of the best working conditions in the world, let alone Europe. We're certainly one of the best paid workers in Europe, and we have some of the strictest Health & Safety legislation in europe and I dare say the world. Don't get me wrong, I know we're not perfect and some aspects could be better, but we're FAR better here than you realise.

  • Comment number 81.

    At 1:06pm on 18 Mar 2010, ExpatKS wrote:
    "If Maggie had not stopped the miners then Arthur Scargill would have been running the Country & that is plainly wrong".

    She didn't stop the miners, she decimated entire communities, many of whom have still not recovered.

  • Comment number 82.

    #24. At 12:15pm on 18 Mar 2010, john3626 wrote:
    .....Unions are a thing of the past, we have a much larger available workforce since we joined the EU and massive unemployment so there are plenty of people to take these jobs if the current BA staff don't want to work there anymore.

    That is the very reason that Unions were started in the first place. Big employers like the coal mine owners thought nothing of their employees, they were disposable because of the amount of people out of work. (See, gross unemployment is nothing new.) It didn't matter to them how bad the working conditions were, if someone got killed or injured and couldn't work again, there were always more people that could take their place. The conditions for the "Match girls/boys" in Victorian England were appalling, but when they got themselves together and formed a Union, the conditions drastically improved.

    At the present time, no, the Unions do not have too much power, Margaret Thatcher saw to that on her watch.

    With regards to the Unite Union, you cannot blame them for wanting to do the best for their members, who are not actually striking for more pay, but for more consultation with the BA executives regarding the changes the Company want to make, which will inevitably mean an amount of cabin crew will be out of work anyway. I do feel that BA with its dogmatic approach to all this is half as much to blame. Why can't they offer the cabin crew a carrot rather than beat them with the stick.

  • Comment number 83.

    The days of the trades unions are almost over. In the past they had the power to hold companies and governments to ransom but in todays globalisied world any union "action" will simply result in the company services being outsourced. In the UK, as experienced with coal, steel and cars the unions, by protecting the workers interests, destroyed their livelihoods. Strikes are old fashioned. Union leaders need to come to terms with global realities.

  • Comment number 84.

    Re # 37
    ”Thatcher broke the stranglehold the unions had so that the country could thrive again.”

    I don’t see a country that’s thriving. I see a country in despair, all due to the policies of a Thatcher government and the policies of this present government of Thatcher clones
    By destroying the jobs of the British citizen she did more damage to this country that any invading power ever did. We need a government that returns to the socialist ideals of putting people before profit

  • Comment number 85.

    Anyone who questions whether the unions in the UK have too much power should also ask the question, do the bosses have too much power? While I fully understand that the management must be under control in order to run a successful business, this must not be at the expense of the welfare and conditions of the workforce. If you allow too much freedom for management then you are well on the way to a hidden form of slavery. As for criticising the unions contribution to the Labour party, don't forget the contributions made by wealthy and powerful individuals to the Conservative party. If you actually care to look at the last 15 years or so, then you will see that there has actually been very little industrial unrest.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think Unions are a scourge to the country in as much as they see themselves as a power base who want to run the country under then guise of Labour. What they are actually doing is being hungry for power by lying and bulling their own contributors to get their own way. In the past when unions were first formed they actually helped the oppressed workers.
    I also believe there are some powerful people in the background who want to ruin this country which once stood for so much that was good in the world.
    Finally unions from other countries would back Unite as they would secretly believe that breaking BA would help their own countries airways

  • Comment number 87.

    Yes, they also know the power is as strong as the timing of the strike/industrial action.With election round the corner and labour party making all efforts to come back against all odds,no time is better than the present.

  • Comment number 88.

    Unions dio not run companies. Boards of Directors do. They are accountable to shareholders.

    If the Unions want to run the companies let them buy enough shares to win votes on the Luddite rubbish they preach, rather than destroy their company with strikes.

    These employees are just that, employees....and if the way they presently work is uneconomic, then if they don't like the necessary changes, do us all a favour and find another job.

    The judges are the Board of Directors and the shareholders, not the Unite union.



  • Comment number 89.

    What exactly do these foreign unions intend to do?

    If members of a British union took such action against a U.S. airline here, what legal action would the owners be able to take (in US or UK)? Is the situation the same the other way round?

    I think members of Unite had better be very careful about what they encourage the employees of foreign competitors to do to British interests. The wouldn't want to destroy the jobs of their members here ... would they?

  • Comment number 90.

    The Unions are the BRITISH PEOPLE, the same people that have bailed out the failing private sector with their taxes.

    Have people not learnt anything from the near collapse of the worlds economy thanks to the unregulated and failed Anglo-Saxon model. Our right to a decent living, decent pay and humane working hours that allows us to share our childrens lives should be undebatable and not subject to whatever scraps greedy shareholders are prepared to throw at us. Just ask the sacked workers of Cadburys.

    WELL DONE UNITE.

  • Comment number 91.

    When you join a union a percentage of your contribution goes to Labour. Surly even if you are in a Union you might change your political allegiance so why would you want your money going to Labour? Every year you should be asked to agree if you want to fund the Labour party, it should not just be assumed. Both this scam and the block votes should be banned.

  • Comment number 92.

    Unions should not be able to block vote their members for any political party , that should be up to the individual member who they vote for , and nothing to do with the union , time was the unions were truly needed but now they abuse the power they have, I don`t work for BA but from what i have read they are well paid with many perks, if they wish to lose their perks its up to them , what they should remember is the union rep and his bosses will still have their jobs at the end .

  • Comment number 93.

    Nothing has ever been "given" freely by the capitalist leadership. It has always taken pressure. Even the US "New Deal" in the 1930's was only allowed because the alternative would have been a revolt.

    So Unions are perhaps the last safeguards before the financial serfdom so ardently planned for by Multinationals and major companies. Particularly as there has not been any increase in the mutual sharing out of riches since 1978.

    The Unions do not have ENOUGH power !

  • Comment number 94.

    Unilaterally my employer, the Govt, have imposed a pay deal on me that was not settled through negotiation.I've also had my contractually agreed terms and conditions of service torn up and had a revised redundancy settlement foisted upon me in a cynical attempt to cut jobs on the cheap in the future. I can almost guarantee that my occupational pension will be the next element of my salary that they will seek to raid. All very undemocratic. Yet a Union who are merly representing the views of their membership and who have carried out due democratic process by means of a secret ballot are castigated as some kind of militant, leftie dinosaurs. There is an unhealthy influence of right wing media outlets who try and monopolise public opinion but who have self serving capatalist agendas. They would be happy to have big business make huge profits on the back of ordinary workers who in turn earn less and less. In this instance the biter is getting bit and I for one fully support UNITE in their justifiable fight.

  • Comment number 95.

    The problem isn't, that unions have power. The problem is, they bear no responsibility.

    If the outcome of the British Airways dispute is that business shrinks, revenue falls, and hundreds of staff lose their jobs, the UNITE union can shrug and walk away from that outcome, without any punishment attaching to it personally. There isn't any mechanism which penalises a trade union for the consequences it visits on any business it meddles with.

    Reckless trade union leaders who don't accept commercial realities and who think it's intelligent to flex their muscles constantly are a menace to the businesses of this country. Why set up a business in the first place, if a trade union can come in whenever it likes and and undermine it?


  • Comment number 96.

    Those who say that Unions are outdated, have too much power ect… Do you enjoying being able to take annual leave? Do you enjoy not having to work in squalid conditions? Do you enjoy the right (as long as you have been working for your employer for over 12months) to have employment rights? I bet you do. And so you can’t have it both ways. Unions are there to look out for the workers as we all know that employers aren’t. They are only interested in making the most profit at the least cost. And that is where Unions come into it. To fight for the rights of the workers, and for the public. Some employers see that cutting costs as just that, they don’t take into account the implications of it. For example, some train companies run trains where the only member of staff on board is the driver. It save them money because they don’t have to pay for a Train Guard on the train. But it leaves me reluctant to travel on their trains because of the lack of staff.

    As for the question, if a Union feels that a political party supports their aims, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to make donations? Unions are democratically elected so donations shouldn’t be made on the whim of 1 person. There should be a mandate from the members requesting it.

  • Comment number 97.

    "74. At 1:14pm on 18 Mar 2010, amdc101 wrote:
    In 1998, the Labour party manifesto claimed it would overturn the anti-trade union laws that were introduced under the Thatcher/Major Governments.

    Well we're still waiting.

    In fact these laws are now being more strenuously applied"

    And

    "54. At 12:47pm on 18 Mar 2010, Maxine58 wrote:
    Thatcher did a marvellous job removing power from the unions. Surprise surprise, 'New'Labour have handed it all back. You only have to look at the number of strikes that have taken place recently to understand the problems this causes."

    Well one of you is clearly wrong.........

  • Comment number 98.

    37. At 12:31pm on 18 Mar 2010, Claire Herbert wrote:
    "thelevellers wrote:
    The Unions do not have enough power thanks to thatcher and the tories

    Big business has been able to treat us appallingly since the power of the Unions waas removed back in the 1980s.

    Until power is given back to the Unions we will continue to suffer."

    "How on earth are you suffering? There is more legislation now protecting workers than there has ever been.
    Thatcher broke the stranglehold the unions had so that the country could thrive again."

    ...and in response to the protection that this legislation is supposed to give us - what has happened? To avoid all this inconvenient and costly protection, big businesses have simply outsourced the jobs to countries like China who don't have these rights. All the rights in the world won't help if you don't have a job. The only jobs that do remain are those that can't (yet) be outsourced. If we want to hang on to our jobs, our high-wage economy, and our nice country, we'd better be prepared to fight tooth and nail for them. Not stand back whilst big businesses steamroller us all into the ground.

  • Comment number 99.

    Do companies and corporations have too much power ?

    Does government have too much power ?

    Do individuals have enough power ?

  • Comment number 100.

    Since the only thing a worker has to offer is his labour, and withdrawal of that labour is normally the only sanction he can take, a Union is the logical requirement.
    AS for their strength. it rather depends where you stand. Bosses hate them, workers need them. One thing is certain, without Unions the UK would be a dismal place probably ruled by a 'Feudal' residue.

 

Page 1 of 21

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.