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In fairness, "Labour losing the plot" is as much a consequence of a transformation in the economy in the post Thatcher years as it is a result of political incompetence.

Junior hotel managers may be badly paid, but they think of themselves as having a posh job with prospects. Care assistants may be at the bottom of the status hierarchy,  but they tend to regard themselves as caring people, working for individual clients, often in their homes, and don't really identify themselves as part of a cohesive occupational grouping.

Union membership in these and similar service orientated occupational groups has always been low, but their numbers have grown hugely, with the result that union membership as a proportion of the working population has declined precipitously.

Unions work best where there are large groups of people performing similar work in the same location or company. This sort of factory production environment has been decimated by out-sourcing, automation and de-industrialisation.

In Ireland, and I suspect in the UK, union membership is now largely confined to the public service, and to a few larger companies employing larger numbers. US companies often pay better but do not recognise unions at all.

This has led to a perception that Unions now largely work for better paid workers in more secure employments who have better benefits to begin with - and don't represent the unemployed or more precariously employed majority.

Although the working class rhetoric and accents often remain, the reality is that it is the middle class professions which are often the most militant and well organised and unions are seen by many outside these groups as entrenching the privileges of the few in sheltered employments.

Rapidly changing work environments do not lend themselves to the staples of union organisation:- stable job descriptions, comparative job grading schemes, structured pay and benefit scales, and rigid negotiating categories. Everything is being individualised to prevent worker solidarity creating a threat to management bargaining power.

Individual workers are bought off by management if they are seen as having better than average ability and work ethic. Companies deliberately automate or outsource work which has been a focus of union activity. Militants are ostracised and marginalised.

It's every man for themselves now, and even the women are betraying their sisters... Politics in this environment, becomes less about class solidarity and more about looking after yourself: Precisely the sort of individual "meritocracy" that conservative parties say they promote. Merit being defined as playing the game within the rules set by others and not any objective measure of contribution or effort.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 3rd, 2019 at 01:35:11 AM EST
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