The trade unions are supposed to care about things like work conditions. It is a liability to that ideal to be aligned with a political party. Both Labour and the unions would be better off if they got a divorce.
There is nothing political about work conditions. Do you have to have socialist leanings to want our workforce to enjoy safe and rewarding conditions? I don’t think so. Our workforce is not divided across political lines.
The old days when the manual workforce being defined as poor Irish Catholics and Labour voters, and the owners of capital being defined as English Anglicans and conservative voters are long gone. But we continue to define politics along outdated ideals.
Having Trade Unions being seen political entities gets in the way of real discussions on work conditions. Sitting down to discuss work conditions with a group of Unionists who call each other ‘Comrade’ is unlikely bring positive results.
I am of the opinion that many (but never all) employers have a real interest in having good work conditions for their workforce. But militant union leaders who see everything in terms ‘them and us’ trash this accord.
And for the Labour Party it would also better off.
You do not have to be a trade union person coming up through the ranks to care about people. Again there is no reason why someone cannot own a business and care about people. There is no bar to a person in a position of privilege caring about those who are less fortunate.
The real problem is that our political structures create divides. They polarise the community. Some people care and some do not. That is how it is. But this is not across a wealth divide. You cannot say that being a member of a political party makes a person good or bad.
Trade Unions do not work at their best when everything is seen through a political prism. Issues like work choices does not have to be a political issue to trade unions. The membership wants work choices or they do not want work choices. Trades unions do not have to be aligned with a political party because that means that they might have to support a raft of issues that are not good for the workforce.
Being apolitical would serve trades better than dogmatic adherence to the party line. Already there is no correlation between the way workers vote and their membership of a Trade Union.
Similarly the Labour Party needs to be open to all who believe in democracy for all. I have never been a member of the Labour Party. Partly because I can never understand how an organization can operate with left factions, right factions, centre left factions, centre right factions and Marxist factions and the Micky Mouse Society. Come on please. You either believe in championing democracy or don’t. There is no such thing as selective democracy.
All the discussion on how many votes Bill Shorten bought to Rudd is an example of why Labour and the Trade Unions need to get a divorce. In a democracy Bill Shorten would have delivered Rudd one vote, but the union factions distorted reality.
I have a lot of time for Bill Shorten. I think he could offer so much more if he was not shackled to the Union factions. And the Trade unions could become more effective if they dropped political allegiances.
That’s my little spray for today. Trade unions need to stick to what they were formed for and are good at. The Labour party needs to stop being an extension of the Trade Union movement and become be a grouping of people who want to advance democracy for all.