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Davy51    233

My original impression of the involvement of the unions in the present day Labour party is that he is trying to bring back the situation of the party being run by the unions as in the days of the 60s/70s. There is definitely a need for organised labour unions if properly run as long as the winter of discontent is confined to history.

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observer    585

The Labour Party originated out of the formation of organised Labour (Trade Unions) as their political voice in Parliament, so nothing wrong with those who pay the piper, calling the tune. Problem is, the "tune" was usurped by political careerists, most of whom have never done a days work in their life, and have wasted time on relatively trivial liberal trivia, rather than the fundemental realities of the "working" class. 

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observer    585

The "tune" is what is played out in Parliament as the voice of workers; alas not many "workers" left to sing it !

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5 hours ago, observer said:

The "tune" is what is played out in Parliament as the voice of workers; alas not many "workers" left to sing it !

But they do like their games

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asperity    270

The Unions have as much relevance to the Labour Party as the Labour Party has to the Unions, if you leave aside the financial contributions one gives to the other. I was a Union member for most of my working life, and am still a member after retirement, but not for affiliation to a political party. Rather I joined the union for them to represent my interest against that of the employer and government agencies, and for legal protection. It's an insurance policy if you like, not a political stance. Unfortunately the likes of Len McClusky see themselves as above the common working man, forming the members wishes rather than following them.

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observer    585

Well we now live in a world where, without organised labour, we have exploitation of workers on a grand scale.  The point of the connection with Labour was to give workers a voice in legislating against such exploitation, removing the need for industrial action.

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asperity    270
8 hours ago, observer said:

Well we now live in a world where, without organised labour, we have exploitation of workers on a grand scale.  The point of the connection with Labour was to give workers a voice in legislating against such exploitation, removing the need for industrial action.

The operative word being "was". And industrial action hasn't been removed has it. The RMT is busy employing (don't you just love the terminology :D) industrial action against Merseyrail's plans to remove guards when they get new driver only trains in the near future, citing "safety" as the reason. This is despite the fact that driver only trains, operated by their union members, are already operating in other regions obviously with the blessing of the RMT.

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Davy51    233

My own personal opinion is that trains should have a guard if only as a "go to man" in case of trouble or disturbances on a train ,someone who can contact the police to be waiting at the next station, and also to supervise the door closing procedure.I don't think railway platforms are an exact science & many trains these days give out "mind the gap"  warnings at some stations so there must be hazards that need supervising.

Maybe stronger unions could also have opposed the arrival of cheap labour from abroad,the favourite of big business, that has undermined the efforts of various governments to bring in the minimum/living wage.

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asperity    270

The new trains that Merseyrail are getting apparently have comprehensive cctv coverage monitored at a control centre, so that any trouble on any train can be seen and help put on standby at the next station. They also have a retractable platform at each set of doors so that when the train is in the station the train floor is level with the station platform there is no gap to "mind". Merseyrail state that they will be retaining sufficient staff so that extra manning can be placed on trains at peak peiods when required. As I said these types of driver only trains are already in use in other regions, with the blessing of the same union.

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asperity    270

As for cheap labour from abroad, this was positively encouraged by the Labour administrations of that nice Mr Blair whose paymasters were the same Trades Unions.

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Confused52    10

To address the original question, Trade Union leaders need Labour governments about half of the time to get any leverage from and for their members. The current labour leadership have been properly elected by the democratic will of their activists. Unfortunately there is no more chance of them forming a government than in the period when Michael Foot was leader. So I guess the answer to what he thinks he is up to is simply looking after the interests of his members. However my experience of being a member of a union was that the rank and file were just used by the union rather than being supported by it, there was always some more important deal they were doing. The really important thing for many of them turned out to be becoming Labour MPs.

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observer    585

Fair point Confused:  many a "socialist" TU Leader have fought for their members all the way to donning the ermine in the House of Lords !   :)    Trains: simple - much safer for an additional person to supervise the doors; but that costs more and undermines profits.  However, these incidents are the last twitching of rebellion in a workforce that has been emasculated by the destruction of our industrial base, the imposition of austerity; with 1% limits on wage rises for the last ten years representing wage cuts. A new generation entering the work place without a clue of their minimum rights or the backbone to do anything about it; thus facilitating such exploitation as zero hour contracts and the status of self employed, to allow the exploiters to dodge tax and NI payments; and pension contributions. We've clearly gone backwards in terms of employee protection and backwards in terms of wealth distribution. Which merely demonstrates that progress isn't inevitable; it has to be fought for and guarded.

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asperity    270

Well as far as the trains are concerned, Merseyrail need to reduce costs in order to pay for the new rolling stock - or increase fares. the magic money tree has been harvested to death apparently.

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observer    585

There are two ways you can run a rail system - 1) Privatised: where the customer funds it and a percentage goes to shareholders (not strictly the case however, as Gov still subsidise parts of the system) OR 2) Nationalised: where the taxpayer funds it, hopefully on the basis of those with the broadest shoulders bearing the heaviest load.  All polls to-date, indicate the public would prefer the latter.

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asperity    270

Option 2, 30 to 40 years down the line, a rail service run for the benefit of the staff using out of date, run down rolling stock with no chance of investment because "priorities in government", and unaffordable ticket prices.

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observer    585

Depends on the Gov;  but I will agree that their are no competent or motivated applicants at the moment.

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Confused52    10

Asperity is spot on. Nationalisation of industries that are capital intensive has been hopeless since the demands of borrowing for the NHS always win over all other calls on Government borrowing as a result of emotional blackmail (how many hospital beds would that buy etc.). That was why BT was nationalised and why the railways had to follow. Our attitudes on the NHS and a willingness to allow its share of GDP to grow is a major problem which will not go away without a loss of romantic notions of a socialist nirvana.

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Davy51    233

I think a problem with Merseyrail is that everything is geared to servicing the city centre & some of its outlying districts. Merseyside or the City region has much more scope to provide a rail service radially throughout the county than just in & out of the city. An ideal opportunity to get cars off the road & even link with surrounding towns independently of the main carriers.A route from say Bootle ,through to the airport ,then Widnes & Runcorn & onto Chester or a route from Southport through Ormskirk,St Helens & Warrington to link up with the main rail network. As a public service entity Merseyrail has scope to expand.

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