Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A right to strike in the UK - Yeh right Updated

It seems that the blog below now needs an update. The Court of Appeal (2-1) has overturned the injunction. The aptly named Lord Judge made the point that "Legal processes do not constitute mediation. On the contrary they often serve to inflame rather than mollify the feelings of those involved." The decision means that the law is not a total ass in this case - I haven't read the full case yet but reports suggest a crucial failure by the union was not to report that 11 ballot papers were spoilt!

It appears that the British courts have in effect come to the conclusion that strikes should not be permitted, a conclusion that will surprise no-one familiar with the history of the role of the common law in industrial relations. In the the period from 1870-1906, and again in the 1960s, these courts invented a whole range of economic torts with the clear objective of ensuring that even the mildest form of industrial action was unlawful. It was only with Parliament's intervention through the Trade Disputes Act 1906 that strikes became lawful - an Act which it was claimed to place unions above the law. In fact the argument was that we, the judges have decided unions should be powerless and how dare the elected representatives of Britain interfere with our decisions.

The most recent technique for neutering unions is to use the complex and largely unworkable ballot requirements of the UK legislation (a legacy of New Labour) as the basis for an injunction prohibiting a strike. No matter that the ballot was absolutely clear in its results, and that the alleged deficiency could have made no conceivable difference to the result, an interim injunction will be issued to prohibit the action. The issue of two injunctions in recent months to prevent British Airways staff striking clearly illustrates that the substance of the result is irrelevant. In the first case a very small group on former employees were balloted due to totally understandable problems in maintaining accurate membership lists - a number that would not have had the slightest influence on the result. The latest injunction is even more mind-bogglingly fatuous - the results were not reported to members in sufficient detail. The interim injunction procedure promotes such results - an employer merely has to show that they have an arguable case and that the "balance of convenience" favours the injunction. And if anyone knows of a case where the balance of convenience has not favoured preventing a strike let me know. Of course if the union's legal position is later (a few years down the track) shown to be correct the strike can go ahead. It is not only BA workers (whose vote of over 80% support was negated) who have been affected. The same tactic was recently deployed against rail workers.

The effect of these decisions is that the British judiciary has (again) effectively outlawed the right to strike .

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Types attracted to unions (attributed to Wal-Mart)

You might like to look on Andrew Scott-Howman's blog about Wal-Mart's legal troubles


Unions have learned to identify certain types of individuals who are more susceptible to union exploitation that others. Here are seven types of associates who "fit" that mold.


This type of associate realizes that he will not be able to measure up to the facility's standards and will be terminated because of his lack of qualitative and /or quantitative efficiency. The union organizer seeks out such an associate and this type of associate is mutually attracted to the union because they convince the associate that it will 'save' the associate's job and clothe. him with the so-called shield of "union protection' and 'job security".

2. THE INDEPENDENT, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY ASSOCIATE. This type of associate has no great financial obligations or commitments. He typically lives with his parents or is basically supported by someone else. He has nothing to lose by joining up with the union forces. He can survive through the longest of strikes and responds to the union propaganda of "everything to gain, nothing to lose. If he, in fact, loses his job in a union-caused strike by being permanently replaced or because the facility closes down, he suffers no real consequences because he did not depend on the job in the first instance.

3. THE REBELLIOUS, ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT ASSOCIATE. This type of associate is attracted to the union cause and is subject to union exploitation simply because he opposes everything associated with the establishment. Since most businesses and structural organizations are associated with the 'establishment', he is opposed to all management or bosses. He consequently becomes an antagonist to the employer and a respondent to the union propaganda. (Ironically, he will later turn against the union also because he will eventually come to resent the authority of the union. Unfortunately, this phenomenon will not occur until after he has exhausted all efforts to unionize his employer.)

4. THE SOMETHING-FOR-NOTHING ASSOCIATE. This type of associate is the typical injury-faker who has collected worker's compensation from most of his former employers. He is the type of individual who is always looking for a deal. He takes every imaginable shortcut available in his job and sincerely feels that the world owes him a living. He is the type of associate who "fudges" on his sick pay or funeral leave and bends every rule to "squeeze" a little more out of his employer. He will obviously be attracted to the union propaganda that he has "everything to gain and nothing to lose." He will completely be sold on the union's typical promises of more money, more fringe benefits, and more of everything. He will not inquire as to how the union plans to deliver nor will the employer's comments on the disadvantages of unionization touch a responsive cord in him.

5. THE CHRONICALLY DISSATISFIED ASSOCIATE. The associate might well be one of the most efficient and productive associates at anyestablishment. But this associate will find fault about everything associated with his employer. He is a hopeless griper and complainer as distinguished from a constructive critic. He is never convinced that his employer is looking out for his interests or the interests of his fellow associates. He is truly an unhappy individual. He probably was born unhappy, is going to die unhappy, and is going to be unhappy for the duration between. This type of associate is a morale destroyer. He keeps everybody. around him continually upset and agitated. It is a full-time job to dispel his negative rumors and ill-founded remarks concerning the management team. This associate will be attracted to the union campaign because the union will listen to his gripes and complaints. The union will convince the associate that it will "straighten out" the employer to his satisfaction. The damage is compounded, however, because thisindividual will reveal every skeleton in the employer's closet out ofwhich the union will further propagandize its cause.

6. THE CAUSE-ORIENTED ASSOCIATE. This associate will "jump' on any bandwagon that passes through his area. He was the same individual whojoined all of the 'off-beat' organizations in high school or college. He typically led demonstrations against everything from "red dye" to "ban the bomb". He once took a trip to India to visit his personal"guru". One can bet his last UNION FREE dollar that the "cause-oriented" associate will be equally attracted to the union effort if and when the union knocks on the employer's door. He is a frustrated leader. He views himself as a self-appointed "spokesman for all" and the union isable to capitalize on his frustrations.

7. THE OVERLY-QUALIFIED ASSOCIATE. This type of associate is out of his element. He will attempt to exert influence over his fellow associates in an effort to bolster his-deflated ego.He might well be a Ph. D. operating a grinding machine or a former accountant sweeping the floor, but his station in life has deteriorated to the point that his vanity appreciable suffers. This type of associate includes the associate who has formerly made substantially more money with previous employers. Both will be attracted to the union simply because the union will offer these individuals the recognition that they seek and will seem to offer hopes of returning them to their previous higher stations in life.