According to a recent article in Personnel Today, you get the union reps you deserve. If you work with them, they’ll work with you. If you try and shaft them, they’ll do the same back. Or something like that.
I haven’t worked in a unionised sector for years but when I did, the union reps were, on the whole, reasonable people. On one occasion, we were disciplining an employee for persistent slacking and some downright dangerous behaviour. His union rep played it by the book, putting up a spirited defence against the charges brought by the management class-enemy. Eventually, we gave the man a formal warning after which the union steward, who also represented this headbanger’s put-upon colleagues, turned to him and said, “You deserved that. Now I’m going to take you out and kick you round the car park.”
In another similar situation, a union rep defended an employee so well that we decided to give him a final written warning, instead of firing him, as we had initially intended. When we informed the man of our decision, he began to protest wildly (he was another nutter). His union rep, a tough Glaswegian, grabbed his arm and said, “Shut it! You’re lucky you didnae get sacked.”
Perhaps, if you get the union reps you deserve, I can claim some credit for the good relationships I had with the shop stewards on my patch. At the time, I just put it down to the fact that they were fair and reasonable blokes.
But it does beg one question. What have the management at London Underground done to deserve Bob Crow?