Letters

This
week’s letter

Employers
get the unions they deserve

Steven
Overell’s article (Off Message, 24 June) predicting the end of employee and
union partnerships raised some interesting questions.

Talking
to engineering union officials in the mid-1990s about ending demarcation and
promoting cross- or multi-skilling, their view was that for years they had
opposed these moves and saw jobs decimated. Therefore, they had to accept that
the best way of saving jobs was to agree to radical changes in their members’
working practices via partnership agreements with employers to try to ensure
the success of the enterprises they worked in.

The
result? They still lost jobs and members as the sweeping tide of globalisation
rendered much of British manufacturing uncompetitive.

Employers
took the unions’ air of reluctant acceptance as meaning they could do anything
they liked with their workforces without opposition, since the unions appeared
to have agreed that whatever happened was the inevitable result of economic
forces beyond their control and that the best they could do was try to ‘roll
with the punches’. Perhaps what has happened now is a belated recognition by
some trade union officials, and at least a proportion of their members, that
the interests of employers and employees, although closely linked, are not
identical, and that if a conflict arises, managers will put the interests of
the employer above that of the employees.

That
is, of course, as it should be, as that is what managers are paid for. However,
when a workforce reacts against management proposals by taking industrial
action and that action is seen to be successful, the view that this is the only
language that management understands is reinforced.

If
you believe the only way to influence management decisions in your favour is by
the threat or use of industrial action, then you are more likely to join a
union that is prepared to exercise that power.

It
used to be said that employers got the trade unions they deserved. Perhaps that
is becoming true once again.

Mark
Alcroft
Personnel manager, Burton’s Foods

Lighten
up ‘man’ and smell the coffee

I
do spot the irony that such a name as Manpower may indeed be viewed by half –
more than half, in fact – of the population as degrading (Letters, 17 June).
But in my view, such a tag never is.

I
spent 18 years in the printing industry, where the tags of ‘manning’,
‘manpower’, and ‘chairman’ ruled, and I must say, it has never bothered me.

I
have taken up the title ‘chairman’ on many occasions – actually insisting upon
it, resisting the piece of furniture title of ‘chair’ and the title of
‘chairwoman’, as well as negotiating ‘manning’ levels with no problem.

After
all, man is only shorthand for woman. Maybe it is men who are always degraded
by the ‘man’ terms. It is the way you look at it that counts, not the tag.

Madeleine
Spanswick
Consultant director, Er Peace of Mind

Equality
is all about mutual benefits

It
is a shame that recent letters in Personnel Today have downgraded discussion
about equality and diversity purely to the level of personal ‘gain’ or ‘loss’
as though it were some kind of balance sheet.

Fundamentally,
diversity is about the overall gain as a whole, through creating a more just,
fair and prosperous society.

At
a workplace level, this means enabling all employees to contribute in full to
the company or organisation goals, while at the same time achieving individual
career goals.

For
example, maternity rights were not just introduced as a benefit for women.
Children gain by having the opportunity for a more settled start in life.
Employers gain by being able to retain skilled and experienced employees. Also,
men are now entitled to paternity leave to help balance their family
responsibilities.

Even
if some men (and women) argue that they do not directly gain from maternity
rights, then might not these same people have partners, sisters and daughters
for whom paid time off from work for childcare is important?

Long
may the debate about equalities continue, but please let it be centred on how
we can all work together for mutual benefit.

Peter
Yarlett
Employee development manager, London Borough of Croydon

IT
spat shows why outsourcing works

On
6 June, Oracle turned what could have been a fairly routine corporate merger –
PeopleSoft’s acquisition of JD Edwards – into a chaotic hostile bid (e-HR, 1
July).

Oracle
signalled its intention, take-over pending, to do away with the PeopleSoft
platform and migrate its customers to Oracle’s software suite. So what does it
mean for the HR outsourcing industry?

Oracle’s
strategy, it has been alleged, may have nothing to do with acquiring
PeopleSoft. By stating the company is in financial trouble, promising to kill
off its products, and pinning its takeover bid on a US$16 (£9.60) per share
bid, Oracle may only seek to irreparably injure PeopleSoft by frightening off
its customers.

For
HR departments with the wisdom to invest not in software but in solutions, it
matters not who wins the spat. For customers of HR outsourcers, it is someone
else’s fight, demonstrating outsourcing can be both a cost-saving tool and a
risk-management device.

Glenn
K Davidson
Chief of market strategy and corporate development, Accenture HR
Services

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