is bound to be a hue and cry about the Government’s move to create and fund a
Trade Union Academy to train union representatives to university level.
many will ask, should train unionists have an edge in negotiations with
employers? And why, some are already asking, should we have to fork out time,
and therefore money, to accommodate trade union representatives undergoing
quite simply, the stand-offs and distrust between trade unions and employers
cannot stay the way they are. If the new academy delivers well-rounded courses
that give unionists a better understanding of business and allows them to talk
at least a similar language to employers, then the greater prize will be better
employee consultation, engagement, motivation and, ultimately, higher
have an big part to play in staff consultation. Yet
few display real business skills. Until this changes,
the decline in employers using them to communicate with staff on major issues
will continue. See the results of Cranfield School of
Management’s latest Cranet Survey.
Modernisation is the key to successful
the HR Forum on board the Aurora
in May, there was a lone trade unionist mingling with HR’s
most senior professionals. Rory Murphy, joint general secretary of Unifi – newly merged with Amicus to form one of the UK’s
biggest unions – took the platform to debate trade union partnerships with
argued that trade unions should be at the centre of business as the consultants
of the 21st century. He said he understood that unions had to become partners
with employers to improve the lot of employees.
makes sense. It’s a shame there are not more unionists like him. Unions have to
modernise if they are to do their job properly. They could start by being
for example, those unions representing staff at British Airways had taken the
lead and helped to devise good people strategies when the organisation
privatised, would there still be endlessly recurring industrial disputes of the
likes we’re witnessing today? Quite possibly not.
By Penny Wilson