Strikes are back in the UK news. Last year postal workers disrupted daily life by not delivering our post, then BA cabin crew disrupted holidays and business flights, now it seems that rail workers feel they are being treated unfairly and may come out on strike over Easter. When I say rail workers, I really mean their union. Because that's what happens when unions aren’t happy.
What is most striking (sorry) about all of this is that we are still in the deepest recession for 60 years. A recession in which many people have lost their jobs, a recession in which many businesses have had to rethink how they operate, and a recession that has caused a great deal of hardship. I’m not saying that mistreated workers should shut up and put up, what I am saying is that organisations must be allowed to change.
Refusing to come to work because management want to reduce 12-hour shifts is an inappropriate and out-dated way of behaving. Railways, airlines, postal services and most other goods and services are part of the global economy. Which means we all have to compete in a global economy. Which means changing as they world changes. Which is something that unions seem to find difficult.
The independent Hooper Report on the UK’s postal service was entitled “Modernise or Decline.” The report says “there is too much resistance to change at a time when the company must focus relentlessly on meeting the needs of customers.” How many other businesses does that apply to? Many? Most? All? Certainly all those mentioned above, and most organisations that are likely to come out on strike when unions get upset.
So maybe unions are out-dated?
The good of any workforce will only be well served if they work for a strong business. And all strong businesses need to be able to change as circumstances change.