The persisting problem with unions

I recently had a long conversation with a high ranking union official, the conversation/debate was spontaneous and interesting. The whole thing was by an accidental meeting at a child’s party.
He was keen to let me know that he had developed a close working relationship with the management of the company he worked for, which had taken time and hard work as mistrust of the union was not easy to overcome. Our conversation covered a great breadth of things, many of which whilst we disagreed I felt we were not far apart on.
This however brings me to the one thing that was significant to me, the belief that he (and everyone else who he worked with) automatically deserved an annual pay rise. To me pay rises should not be automatic as that is part of the problem, I also made the point that companies should not exploit staff. Pay rises should be based on better productivity not the passing of a year or inflation, but I got nowhere near convincing him that pay rises should be earned not expected. I would expect that when productivity increases result in increased profits that the benefit of the extra profits should be shared by the shareholders and the employees fairly.
Whilst we are always going to has substantial differences in opinion, it was refreshing to find a union stalwart who I have a great deal of respect for and whose views were never unreasonable and whose views were tempered with practical realism. If this man replaced someone like Bob Crowe, I feel it would benefit everyone, the country, the companies and the employees. People on both sides should always fight their corner hard, but must always accept that the best outcomes come from working together for the common goal – a healthy profitable company that provides a safe, welcoming, rewarding workplace for its employees.

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