Luddite unions are obsolete

by Gavin



When I left school in the late 70s my first job was in a bank. A the time technology was just starting to affect daily life in the banks. Databank processed the cheques and other transactions. We got line flow printed reports every morning for all accounts and changes in the branch. The old handwritten records still existed. To load new accounts, changes and closures we had to fill out forms that were sent to databank daily, putting a strike through zeros to distinguish them from Os. The golf ball typewriter was modern and typists typed up letters with carbon copies. The first “Bankcard” was introduced around this time as well.

Things were changing for the better. But, the union was worried about the potential of job losses from all this newfangled technology. So, what did they do? The usual: they called a one-day strike to stir up resentment and protest the changes. The irony of this archaic practice has been the counterpoise of the rise of IT and the huge amount of employment and job options generated by it. The short-sighted unions were clinging to the past and fighting for it, when a lot of the boring bank work is now done by machines.

Another happy union story: I was working at a dairy factory as a machine operator. We all had to pay our union fees due to compulsory union membership laws; no personal choice allowed. The dairy factory had a method for diluting the union’s influence by promoting the union delegate. So, my particular shift foreman was also the union delegate. That’s a bit dodgy I hear you say. Well, I had a run-in with my shift foreman and he sacked me. So, having paid my union fees all this time where could I turn? It appears the union was uninterested as it was their delegate who fired me. So, I remained fired and moved on, a little more cynical of unions and their corrupt ways.

Ironically, even then, businesses knew how to work around the system by appealing to greed and selfish self-interest from the unions

We come to the present day: the unions fighting for better wages for McDonald’s type “Mcjobs”.  Give them more money they say, pay them fairly etc and slowly the robots and vending machines will arrive to displace the low-skilled work. So, what has changed in 40 years for the unions? Not much. They are still fighting for a past that no longer exists rather than embracing change, or leading it to inspire their members to look to the future instead of the past. Why is it that these outfits attract people to lead them who tell lies and use bully tactics to get their way?

As for me, I work as a contractor in the IT/technical space. I don’t need a union to take money from me and give nothing back but platitudes and hot air while they swan off to overseas union gatherings. I am happy to live on my own efforts, without the need for bullies to take my money to build their Little empires in the sun. I have been working with technology for over 30 years and still get a kick out of learning new things every day.

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