Top UK unionist moves to HR outsourcing role

One of the UK’s top trade unionists has left the movement to become an HR director, specialising in one of the most controversial work issues today – outsourcing.

Rory Murphy, who started his new job yesterday with outsourcing consultancy Morgan Chambers, was previously deputy general secretary of Amicus – the UK’s second biggest union.

He had worked in the trade union movement for 33 years, and now predicts that more unionists will follow his lead.

In an exclusive interview with Personnel Today, Murphy said he could be more effective advising companies about the importance of people management using the ‘carrot’ approach of consultancy, rather than the ‘stick’ approach of the unions.

“It’s a bit difficult to have a stick of six million [members] when there are 26 million people in the workforce,” he said. “It is a bit difficult to have a stick when the average age of the workforce is 36, and the average age of the trade unionist is 49.

“The trade union agenda of the 1970s, when there was a need for strong trade unions with 30 million members, is finished – the unions have, in effect, won.

“Trade unionists will be the consultants of the coming age,” he said. “Maybe I’m the first, but I’m sure there will be more.”
Murphy denied that he was turning his back on the unions.

“I don’t feel I have to answer to the cynics,” he said. “Just because I moved from one organisation to another doesn’t mean I am throwing out the ideology.

“I am not a rabid anti-trade unionist who wants to screw the workers,” he added. “If I was like that, Morgan Chambers wouldn’t touch me with a barge pole.”

Bob Fawthrop, chief executive of Morgan Chambers, said he didn’t choose a traditional HR director for the role to make sure an inclusive and balanced approach was brought to the HR side of outsourcing. He added that people management would be the dominant feature in outsourcing in the next two years.

Murphy continued: “I think employers will want to listen more attentively to what I am saying, if for no other reason than they’re paying for it.”

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