Why Collective Bargaining is a Political Issue


Samworth Brothers logo

All workers benefit from the historical struggles that have been waged by trade unions. But with a Tory government continuing to roll back all the gains that have been attained by workers fighting together, supporting a socialist political alternative is more important than ever.

This is why most of the major trade unions in Britain are supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to retain the leadership of the Labour Party against his Blairite opponents who have run the roost for too long. The Bakers Union (BFAWU) has proudly supported Corbyn against his pro-business enemies over the past year and recently reaffirmed their backing of his leadership of a socialist Labour Party committed to fighting for improving workplace rights in Parliament.

Other unions that are campaigning to support Corbyn include Unison, Unite, the Fire Brigades Union, the Communication Workers Union, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians, and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen.

Building public support for Jeremy Corbyn is critical for all manner of reasons, but one important reason is that Corbyn has pledged to scrap the anti-worker trade union laws that were brought in under Tony Blair.

Workers already have the right to join a union, but a Corbyn-led Labour government would require companies with more than 250 employees to accept new industrial laws under which they would have to recognise a specific union with which to bargain over pay.

Writing in the Observer last month, Corbyn said:

“The best way to guarantee fair pay is through strengthening unions’ ability to bargain collectively – giving employees the right to organise through a union and negotiate their pay, terms and conditions at work. That’s why it should be mandatory for all large employers, with over 250 staff, to bargain collectively with recognised trade unions.”

This would represent a massive step forward for workers across Britain, including those employed by bosses who would prefer not to engage in collective bargaining arrangements with their employees. Unfortunately, Samworth Brothers provides a perfect example of a company that is run by a management who seek to deny their workers the right to benefit from collective bargaining.

Samworth’s Personnel Manager at Kettleby Foods, a women named Carol Gasson, reflects this backward Victorian approach to Labour relations. When I published an article online earlier this year Carol responded in the comments section accusing me of “scaremongering the workers” for daring to say that Samworth employees might benefit by joining the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

Carol then engaged in her own nonsensical scaremongering, adding: “Unions just want to make money from joiners. What happens if a union gets in, the family may close the doors. Have that in your thoughts when thousands of long serving people lose their jobs.” In further misleading comments she made her ignorance clear to all: “No one needs unions. They play on people’s ignorance.”

But what history shows us clearly is that every worker benefits from being a member of a trade union. History also shows us that workers must therefore struggle for the right to collective bargaining if they are improve their chances of being able to stand united against bosses.




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