Saturday, 16 April 2016

There's no doubt about it - collective bargaining is the ticket to better pay and enhanced contracts.


Just eighteen months ago, I helped secure union recognition at a logistics company employing sixty lorry drivers.

We've now had two rounds of  "collective bargaining".  And yes, it does worry me that so few people know what collective bargaining even is.

Well, thanks to Unite collectively bargaining for it's members, pay has increased by 18.9%

Yes, that's right. Since the first pay negotiations early in 2015, pay has increased by almost 20%. Not bad this collective bargaining thing, is it?!

The drivers have a 45 hour week, but didn't have guaranteed minimum working day.  So if you have a short run on the first day of the week, eg six hour day, you still have 39 hours to do over your next four days.  Unite have now negotiated a minimum 8 hour day, and are this year pushing for it to be increased to 9.

Talks are currently ongoing about improving the formula used for calculating holiday pay.

Oh, and the drivers now have shop stewards. This has resulted in many advantages. Not only has Health&Safety improved, but the drivers are now much harder to sack. Drivers have access to learning from the ULR (union learning rep). In short, the job is getting better.

But of course, we haven't fixed everything.

Overtime is paid at "flat rate". This means that if you work overtime, you don't get paid anymore than at your usual hourly rate.  Working nights only provides our members with a miserable extra £1 per hour.

There's no additional payments for working bank holidays.  The company sick pay scheme is poor...

...I could go on.  There are always things that can and should be improved.  But without unions, you get what you are given,

So there's plenty of things on our members wish list for future bargaining.  And over time, things at this Staffordshire site are likely to continue to get better.

There's no doubt about it - collective bargaining is the ticket to better pay and better terms and conditions.  And by raising the standards at this logistics company, it helps lift the standard at similar firms in the local area.  Yes...unions are good for non-members in non-union firms too.

Staff recruitment & retention are less of a problem for the employer now.  And with the shop steward in the room when grievances are heard or disciplinary decisions taken....the union serves as a moderating influence on the employer.  And by keeping the employer to it's procedures...unions help protect the employer from tribunal or other legal risks.  That's right, unions are good for employers too.

Making dramatic gains this quickly is unusual.  Normally collective bargaining is about the long term - it's about very gradually making work better. That said, I can think of no workforce that has ever suffered as a result of union recognition.  It is what it is - a universally positive force for good.

Unions.  What's not to like?