The fall in trade union membership does not signify a happier workforce, but
one that feels alienated from the union movement, according to the departing
leader of the Transport & General Workers Union (T&G), Sir Bill Morris.
In an exclusive interview with Personnel Today, the T&G general
secretary, who retires this week, said workers are still not getting due
respect in the workplace. Morris said the structure of the economy had changed
but the unions had not moved with it.
In the 12 years he has been in charge of the T&G, trade union membership
has fallen from 13 million to seven million.
Morris said the historic backbone of union support came from industries that
were now disappearing – such as mining and manufacturing – and appealed to the trade
unions to reclaim the new workplace, including growing sectors such as leisure
"Trade unionism is supposed to be about caring, sharing and
supporting," said Morris,.
"People must once again see trade unions as a force for good and a
force for change – people will always gravitate to those who articulate and
understand our concerns."
He said that the forthcoming information and consultation directive, which
will force employers to consult workers at an earlier stage and in more detail
about issues affecting employment, will help give "inalienable
rights" back to the worker.
"It is so important that we embrace information and consultation on the
basis of what is decent, what is right and what is good for the enterprise and
the people who work in it," Morris added.
Union left-winger Tony Woodley will take Morris’s place at the helm of the