Frustrated union meeting rant … damn GFC excuses

Another day wandered past today. I didn’t even really get a chance to say ‘see ya’.

My lunch time taken by a union meeting in which the past was gone over in agonising and unneccessary detail. I guess this is the problem with being in part of an industrial award that for the most part was not written with your work space in mind. Same could be said of the company more generally.

We, as a section of staff, make up such a small proportion of the company wide staff as to make very little difference to the industrial vista (a lonely molehill as it were), which the union and management are attempting to paint by numbers. The predominate requirements of the staff of this company are teachers – and teaching staff have specific requirements and require particular industrial rules to defend against things like work loads, extra hours, casualisation of the work force etc. Teaching Unionism has a history of defending working conditions, quality outcomes, dispute resolution.

Publishing unionism is a funny beast. Neither hound nor hare. Its a hidden entity. For most publishing houses its non-existent from my experience. Everyone accepts what’s handed down, squabbling over the bits that they think they can get away with … that goes on both sides of the table. Those risk takers willing to take a little bit of the bite, that can talk their way into positions beyond their merit (again both sides of the table) are rewarded. This is a problem that is ever present. those with a gift of gab (whether backed up or not) and those with a gritty belligerency are generally the winners. Who wants to do that one-up-personship and staring down with little eyes every three years (or at all in most cases?)

But what of en masse negotiation through representation. Is this the problem with representative democratic decision making? Does this help in any practical case? Economically does it merely limit work force numbers by creating barriers to (some) rises in income for some or barriers to new (or secure) employment for others? Does it prevent work force exploitation? None of these things are particularly true in my experience. But then what is that experience? Its an experience without a solid interest to back it through. I live and breathe the work conditions that have been won without a great interest in fighting this battle for each EA. It is enough that it is fought on my behalf. For this reason my dues are well spent. Fighting against an advantage that would otherwise be taken any time an opportunity arose on oneside of the table. That’s the problem – in the good times the wins are not shared equally on both sides of the table. The bad times it seems are very much that opportunity to be grasped. Economic responsibility not to raise inflation, not to increase unemployment and other such bogus claims are very much spouted publicly whilst the spouters are quite happy award the bonuses and the percentage salary increases in the rarified pay packets that circulate board rooms.

A 2 percent bonus is not a bonus its inflation. And its certainly not something that those wielding the calculators and fountain pens would accept should the positions be reversed.

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