[Marxism] Unions Plan to Merge to Counter Corporate Giants

Len Walsingham lha.walsingham at btopenworld.com
Mon Mar 1 13:02:23 MST 2004

	This is a profoundly mistaken trend. The same thing is going on
in Britain -- rather than organise, trade union officials merge head
offices of groups of workers with little in common to protect their own
jobs. Here, the banking and finance workers union UNIFY, itself the
result of a recent merger of banking unions is seeking to join the
AMICUS conglomerate, which is composed of engineers; technical workers
and electricians. Yet workers for the Alliance and Leicester bank are
organised by the CWU. The printing union GPMU is understood to becoming
part of the GMB: the General, Municipal and Boilermakers! If they were
going to foster industrial strength they should be joining with others
in the print and media industry.

	What on earth do needle trades workers and hotel and restaurant
workers have in common? Capital can unite across industries but labour
cannot. You cannot contend with transnational corporations in this way.
You need industrial strength to do that, not a big head office and tiers
of officials. It makes sense for workers within one industry to unite,
although the boundaries of some industries are changing. But all you get
with these kinds of mergers is more resources for the bureaucrats. Plus
the bureaucracy gets more remote and beyond the control of the workers
(if it was there in the first place, which it isn't in many cases). I
see these kinds of mergers as evidence of decline not renewed strength.
They are 'mindless mergers' urged on workers on the basis that bigger is
better. Better maybe if you want a full-time union job.

	The Transport and General Workers (TGWU) have a new office in
Holborn that rivals the corporate headquarters that surround it. Yet
they have closed district offices in the localities that served
workplaces -- where are the priorities and what is the point?


> Two of the nation's most aggressive labor unions said
> Thursday that they planned to combine to better contend
> with national companies that are growing bigger
> themselves through mergers.
> The leaders of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and 
> Textile Employees, known as UNITE, and the Hotel Employees 
> and Restaurant Employees union, or HERE, said it wasn't the 
> California grocery strike and lockout that brought the two 
> together. But they said that long- running dispute 
> underscored why they needed to take a page from corporate 
> giants that have grown more powerful and in some cases more 
> defiant as their industries consolidated.

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