Samworth and the Politics of Unions

The primary function of an effective trade union is to do their best to represent the political and economic interests of their members (workers). By contrast the primary function of management is to represent the political and economic interests of their owners (the bosses).

Of course for-profit companies (including Samworth Brothers) obtain their profits from the hard-work of their employees. However the share of the profits that Samworth workers are entitled to is presently totally dependent upon the whim of their bosses.

To try to redress this imbalance, the Bakers Union are currently pushing for a collective bargaining agreement with Samworth management in order to have a say in how company profits are shared out. This positive step forward would enable workers to negotiate as equals with their bosses, so that they may have an organised, collective say, in how much the company pays them.

By standing together, union members improve their ability to negotiate improvements in their pay and conditions. But this doesn’t happen by magic, and all union members sacrifice a small portion of their salary, precisely so that it can employ full-time and legally-trained union officials, whose primary job is to help union members.

One of the main ways that union officials try to aid their members is by advising them on how they can improve their working conditions (and go on courses to learn how to do it themselves). Another way in which such officials benefit all workers is by explaining to non-members why all workers can benefit by standing together in unions, and thereby recruiting new members into the 6 million-strong British trade union movement.

Naturally, all unions are involved in politics. This fact shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all it was the collective efforts of workers and their trade unions that led to the formation of the Labour Party – a parliamentary party that was founded over a hundred years ago to represent the political needs of the working-class.

This explains why the Bakers Union is affiliated to the Labour Party; it also explains why many members of the Bakers Union actively support Jeremy Corbyn. This is because Corbyn is doing so much to reclaim the Labour Party from the useless careerist Blairites who, in recent decades, have done so much to damage to the working-class credentials of the Labour Party.

In contrast to supporting politicians, like Corbyn, who are committed to raising the pay and living standards of the majority of workers in Britain, many corporate leaders prefer to back the politics of the Conservative Party. Hence millionaire businessmen, like Sir David Samworth and his family, naturally choose to fund and vote for Tories because the Conservative Party has historically always acted in their interests at the expense of the rest of us.

Needless to say the Conservative Party are not too keen on trade unions and the ongoing efforts of workers to organise themselves collectively. This also explains why the mainstream media, which is largely owned by Tories, does its best to undermine support for both unions and the socialist politics that Jeremy Corbyn represents.

Just this year the Government was, unfortunately, able to pass the most undemocratic anti-trade union legislation that Britain has ever seen. This is why all the major trade unions, including the Bakers Union, have been engaged in a vigorous political campaign to oppose everything that the Tories stand for.

It is true that many millionaire bosses are united in their support for the Tories, and sadly, at present, it is also true that most workers have little choice but to work for bosses who support the Tories.

But, in exchange for fair pay, workers still work conscientiously irrespective of the politics of their boss. There can be no doubt that workers should be paid as much as their company can reasonably afford to pay them.

This brings us back to unions. In order to have truly democratic negotiations with their employers, workers join unions, and then ask for the right to engage in collective bargaining.

Understanding that entering into such agreements with unions is not a bad thing: many bosses (even those who support the Tories) voluntarily agree to allow their workers the right to benefit from collective bargaining arrangements. So what, we should ask, is wrong with the bosses at Samworth?

Samworth and Collective bargaining


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