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Unions...What Are They Good For?

Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:30 am

Reading various articles regarding Airbus' announcement to shed 10,000 jobs, I've been bemused and confused by the comments of some of the unions involved.

Business is business. If restructuring, cost cutting, and shedding jobs means staying in business, versus not doing any of those and going out of business, I'm all for doing what it takes to stay in business. And Louis Gallois is not stupid either - he knows this and I think he has the capability to take Airbus in the right direction (that's for another thread, though).

So, I have to ask the question, what on earth do unions expect to achieve with comments such as:

We totally oppose the closure of any site and we won't accept any firings
Peter Scherrer
European Metalworkers Federation

I don't think it's an issue of them getting to oppose closure or accept redundancies. If these things are necessary to halt losses, then I'd most likely tell the unions that it's either some of them lose their jobs now, or eventually all of them lose their jobs further down the line, which seems to be the case here.

And that takes me to the real question...what good are unions in situations like this? As far as I can tell, they serve to simply hold up a necessary business process that is genuinely in the interests of the company. Opposing the moves isn't going to do them any favours and could put them in an even worse situation further down the line.

Your thoughts, please...
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RE: Unions...What Are They Good For?

Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:35 am

Quoting IFEMaster (Thread starter):
And that takes me to the real question...what good are unions in situations like this?

It depends on the country, the industry and the company involved. Making sweeping statements (I'm not sure you were trying to) doesn't resolve the problem. For example, all too frequently you can have a union being seemingly unreasonable, yet in previous years where the company has done well, the workforce have been taken advantage of and screwed into the ground. Companies often seem remarkably reluctant to share any element of their success with those that created it, yet extremely happy to fire indiscriminately at the first sign of a slipping share price. Unions tend to take a dim view of this, and rightly so.

There are always companies where union power has a detrimental impact on the business - the American car makers are a good example of this, as is the aviation industry on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet poor management can be just as much to blame, and is not necessarily immediately obvious once you've reached the point where the company is already deep in the brown and nasty.
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RE: Unions...What Are They Good For?

Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:41 am

Pretty recent discussion of this.
RE: Why Are Unions Regarded So Poorly? (by MD11Engineer Feb 25 2007 in Non Aviation)

I don't personally care about the duplicate topic, but you might find some discussion answering your questions....
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

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