She was glowing about my colleague:
"He came in and just SHOOK THE PLACE. It was amazing. Nobody has taken management on before, and nobody here would dare take management apart like he did. Wow! Everyone is talking about it. We just can't believe that they've now had to change things."
I asked what it had all been about, In her words, "management were literally taking the p***"
Then followed an extraordinary story. The MD had introduced a "random" drugs testing policy of the most humiliating kind.
The "random" person selected was always female. The MD would simply approach a female worker of his choice, and hand them a tube. He would then expect it to be returned to him directly within the hour. There were two-hundred workers at this site, yet it tended to be a group of particular women who were singled out.
This was not a union company. Several workers joined the union in the hope that something could be done. No union official had set foot in the place before.
Well, I don't know what my colleague said, and I don't know what steps he took.
But I do know that the issue was resolved and that the grubby behaviour of the boss was forced to stop.
Thinking back to this story has made me consider the bigger picture:
It wasn't until 1999 that workers had the legal right to be represented in a grievance or disciplinary hearing by a Trade Union. If these women had approached a union in 1998 or 1898 then there would have been no chance of getting a rep through the door.
And that's the point. Since 1999, unions have been able to send reps into non-union workplaces... and change things. Throughout industrial history prior to 1999, non-union workplaces were simply out of bounds to Trade Unions.
UK employment law is disgraceful as it is deliberately stacked in favour of the employers. But with regards to this particular development, a very positive change has taken place that deserves to be more widely acknowledged.