Trade union mergers are good for you. The personnel community will be helped in their work by the increasing size and capabilities of large British unions. Organisations in the public and private sectors alike now recognise that there is a real advantage in engaging the commitment of the workforce. Greater managerial effort is being deployed everywhere to consult employees.
The quality of consultation, however, is variable: sometimes, the motivation to consult is not genuine; sometimes, organisations are so stretched managerially that they do not have the time to expand the sheer number of meetings that go towards communicating company policy. But often, the real block to genuine consultation is the lack of confidence on the employee side of the consultation relationship. This is where improving trade union resources comes in.
There is no doubt that the strength of British unions lies in its essentially voluntary nature. Tens of thousands of volunteers help represent their fellow workers in good times and bad, on personal matters and hugely strategic change issues. But they need help. The union's full time officers and specialists have to be on hand to help the lay representatives and their members grapple with an increasingly complex world. For us, trade union mergers reduce the costs of administration as a share of expenditure. They help us to reduce inter-union competition and allow unions to alter their structure and culture to parallel more closely both their members' expectations of work life and the constant change in companies and public services.
There is no doubt that size matters. The global economy demands an entirely different level of competence from trade union representatives, both at full-time and local volunteer levels.
Our union has been involved in two huge mergers in nine years, and still the challenges continue. Our members demand that we help them as individuals in ways we have never done before. Taking part in skills expansion is crucial to our members and their companies. Our insistence on uprating our members' safety awareness through safety reps is vital for workplace development. The fortune we spend on industrial law training is well spent with its emphasis on avoiding costly litigation.
Representing workers' feelings accurately, non-ideologically and competently, is the key to companies enjoying stimulating and worthwhile consultation. Only that provides t