Poor industrial relations with unions can damage employer brands

Trade unions can be part of an employer’s problem, or part of their solution, according to a leading unionist.

Mike Jeram, Unison’s national secretary for business and the environment, told delegates that poor industrial relations can be extremely damaging to major brands, pointing to last month’s British Airways dispute as a recent example.

“On the other hand, union endorsement can be very beneficial,” he said. “If we say Tesco is a good company to work for, that can be good for the brand. Unions are not served by the failure of employers. We want successful, growing companies that can provide job security.”

Commenting on last week’s Personnel Today/TUC research on the relationship between unions and HR, Jeram said some organisations get the union reps they deserve. But he also conceded that some union reps can be more interested in pursuing their own political agendas than working with their employers.

“We want well-trained, responsible reps to establish good working relationships with employers,” he said.

Unison has 30,000 volunteer trade union reps looking after the interests of 1.25 million members.

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