The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
The Forum - On Line Opinion's article discussion area


RSS 2.0

Main Articles General

Sign In      Register

The Forum > Article Comments > Mateship never out of fashion > Comments

Mateship never out of fashion : Comments

By Col Harrington, published 13/10/2008

Trade unions and their philosophy of altruism, pure and simple, is out of fashion and no longer valued by society.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All
Hear, Hear, Col!

It's very sad to see the way the mantra of dog eat dog - “Every man for himself” - has re-emerged as a dominant motif in workplaces and elsewhere in Australia.

"Looking out for your fellow worker" is a far healthier social policy. The example of suicide is just one of many cases that could be brought forward.

Bosses who can't see the benefits of cooperation, and caring for the welfare of their employees, are very short-sighted and ultimately working against their own best interests as well.
Posted by Spikey, Monday, 13 October 2008 11:40:49 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
I agree that unions perform a useful role, and the example provided of suicide prevention is a very good example of that. However, the early part of the article was rather irritating in its one-eyed admiration for unionism.

Altruism is not the essential philosophy of unions, but rather solidarity –the belief that the actions of a group will secure a better outcome for each of its members than each of them acting individually. There may be elements of compassion for the weak and vulnerable in this, but its essential logic is self-interest – I’ll get higher pay, better conditions, improved job security etc from union membership than bargaining alone. Genuine altruism would see union members sacrificing their pay and conditions for the benefit of their employers or other employees, and that doesn’t happen very often.

To say “the most the union movement is guilty of is raising the consciousness of working people and saying to them ‘You’re worth more’” is frankly dishonest. The worst the union movement is guilty of is violence, intimidation, coercion, corruption, inflicting economic damage on innocent parties, destroying people’s livelihoods, and causing unemployment.

If the union movement is to continue to play a constructive role in society, as I hope and believe it will, it must be honest about its own shortcomings.
Posted by Rhian, Monday, 13 October 2008 3:17:14 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Like Rhian I applaud the program to watch out for how well workmates are travelling.
But also like Rhian I find your rave ignores union history.
I’m old enough to remember Normie and the BLF and Costigan royal commission into Victorian Painters and Dockers Union. Which revealed bottom of the harbour schemes, contract killers and myriad other activities from by order theft to dodgy sickie forms. Then there were the Links to Mr Asia and the Station Hotel at Port Melb. Your industry unions have had their moments from stand over tactics to internecine politics. At one stage the greatest cause of industrial disputation was demarcation disputes? A little more than ‘we’re not perfect’.
The primary function of any group is its own longevity.
Notwithstanding this Unions have at times been all that stands between the workers and Capitalist Darwinism. Unionism as an ideal is honourable but like Capitalism practical application is somewhat flawed.

I also applaud the union’s vigilance in OSH&W and even central wage negotiation…evening up the power balance so to speak.

I wonder if the suicide issue is more structural and demographic than anything else. One wonders if a research project investigating this might a better basis for a solution.

I have a son who is ex structural drafting and now works in another “boom bust industry” while he loves it while he’s working the unpredictable availability of work does have a stressing affect on him. Like wise many of the boys he knew at school and were academically underperformers have finished up in the ‘building industry’. I have noted that a number have tried and failed as subbies a couple have lost property consequently. In two occasions I helped in sorting out their ’businesses’ only to find that their lack of education and general business acumen was largely to blame. My point is that the industry doesn’t seem to attract those with the life skills/ smarts necessary and as a consequence this generates fertile grounds for feeling out of control, bitterness and one lad became deeply depressed
Posted by examinator, Monday, 13 October 2008 7:05:30 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
"without the framework, how would you implement something like this? Who would know if no one did a study? Where would the money come from if not through the union fund? Who would actually care if not for the union movement..."

There are large numbers of health studies going on in this country all the time, and relatively few of them are funded by the union movement. Public health is a public issue; and building workers have just as much right to government health protection as any other social group. The union movement has every right to work for the health of its members, but no right to claim it is the only responsible or caring body.
Posted by Jon J, Monday, 13 October 2008 7:33:40 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Unions have a mixed history, like so many organisations of the past, think Lodges.
Ideology is a poor support for thinking! Most workers today are better educated and self sufficiency is a modern mantra, I'm alright jack is the death of unions, especially if pronounced by a union organiser.
Unions became the means by which hoods and standover men were given power.
I was first a union member then an employer of union members. As a member I had no experience of assistance, just give me the money. As an employer it was prohibited from advertising for employees, I must go to the union, they sent the applicant, I accepted him under the union pressure of thats the only choice. I became a non union employer and had some work with me for 15 years.
My forebears would have rolled in the grave, all strong union men.

I have a young friend in the building industry today, a strong union advocate, as one would be in that industry, if you wanted work of course. I have never worked in that industry and take his word for union involvement, he one day will be if not already an organiser. Safety is his mantra, not wages, he seams content with his wages, work conditions.
The concern this post shows for suicide is laudatory, it is a health and safety issue, a sign that unions are modernising, much needed.
Posted by fluff4, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 11:51:15 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All

About Us :: Search :: Discuss :: Feedback :: Legals :: Privacy