Unifi v SWT in union-partnership debate

business needs to create a partnership with all employees that will relegate
trade unions to a supportive role, according to Beverly Shears, HR director of
South West Trains.

the HR Forum aboard the Aurora last week, she locked horns with Rory Murphy,
joint general secretary of finance union Unifi, over trade union partnerships
with business.

said that while industrial relations were traditionally adversarial, the really
important relationship should be between staff and management, not unions and

believe in trade unions supporting people when the distribution of power is
off," she said. "But what a trade union says it wants may not be the
same as what staff want.

machineries are not for everyone, only trade union members. Employers have a
duty to support and listen to everyone," she added. "You don’t
represent everybody at your peril."

said bosses should have a professional relationship with unions and a
partnership with staff, while Murphy argued trade unions should be at the
centre of business as the consultants of the 21st century, balancing the
protection of staff with the profit and growth of the company.

drew delegates’ attention to Unifi’s life-long learning programmes, which he
said were the best in the UK.

said employers must realise unions had come a long way since the miners strike
and ‘the winter of discontent’, and did not have ‘flat caps and whippets down
our trousers’.

things don’t remain perfect, there is still a role for the trade unions to
play," Murphy said. "Nobody’s looking for trouble, but actions of
employers drive employees to distraction.

have to remind companies that nothing militates a worker more than a

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