Saturday, January 16, 2010

Destroy the unions

Via Iain Dale, I have found an interesting article by John Gummer* (I never thought that I'd say those words); the man's conversation with some fucking stupid, piss-arse NUSWT union shitstick is more than revealing.
I've been thinking about an exchange I had in Manchester. Britain's second largest teaching union, the NUSWT, promoted itself at the three Party Conferences. Their stand was uncompromising. The posters contained no hint of renewal or improvement; no recognition of the huge increase in attainment that the nation demands. Simply a series of statements opposing even this Government's relatively feeble attempts at reform. Above them all the keynote claim 'PUTTING TEACHERS FIRST'.

I approached the imposing woman behind the counter. "Shouldn't that read 'putting children first' I ventured. "Certainly not! We're a Trade Union and I'm its General Secretary."

Boom! There, right there! That is why the unions are such a bunch of fucking cunts and should be destroyed, utterly, at the soonest opportunity. It is also why the public sector is full to the brim with these bastards: those working in the sector don't give a crap about their customers and, as far as the unions are concerned, the general public aren't their customers anyway.

Look, 150 years ago unions had a place: they were there to redress the balance between poor workers and over-mighty industrialists. And that's fair enough.

But in the days of buckets of equality legislation and the National Minimum Wage, unions simply have no place. The only reason that these fuckers exist is because they continue to shore up the Labour Party's finances.

We should utterly destroy them, and do it soon.
learly I'd struck lucky and this was the big boss. "We put teachers first so we can get the terms and conditions that allow us to do the best for the children."

Yeah, and how's that working out for you? Oh, wait, it's working great for you: it just isn't working out quite so well for the poor children, is it? You stinking whore-harpy of aspirational destruction, you.
"But haven't you noticed that on the commercial stalls around you businesses are saying that they put the customer first?" Mrs Chris Keates drew herself up to her full height. "I won't take lessons from the private sector with their bonus culture," she expostulated

Uh-huh. Is it just me, or do many teachers not get bonuses these days? And could I just remind you, Mrs Chris Keates, that "the private sector with their bonus culture" pay your fucking wages? Not voluntarily—after all, what sensible, hard-working person would pay a screaming shit like you even to lick their arsehole clean?—but through extortion.

I simply cannot be bothered to comment on the rest of this tedious woman's excrescence: however, you can read the whole thing for yourself and, I hope, hold you head in absolute despair. And then punch your screen in rage as you contemplate that hidebound shits like Mrs Chris Keates will happily crew up your childrens' education—and their entire future—simply because she can and, worse, because she believes it's right.

"But," I hear you cry. "None of this is the teachers' fault: they cannot help the fact that their union representatives are turds of the very first water."

Teachers deserve better than this. They deserve a professional body run by people who recognise that education is much more than the classroom; that there are lessons to learn from the private sector; that independent schools might have ideas worth borrowing; that a new generation needs new methods as well as old. Above all a professional body that could only label its stand PUTTING CHILDREN FIRST because that was what it was all about—day in day out from first thing to the moment the last script was marked.

You see, the teachers are just like all of those corrupt fucking doctors who are memebrs of the BMA and other fucking societies: they could refuse to pay the subs, they could refuse to condone this disgusting behaviour.

But they do not: they continue to fund medical and educational mediocrity: they continue to grasp greedily at the golden apples and fuck everyone else—including those who they are charged with protecting and nurturing.

Some of you might argue that this is fair enough—that humans are motivated by self-interest and none of this can be changed. Sure, that is fair enough.

But let's stop painting these cunts as angels. Why?

Because the sooner we realise that these public servants are not, in fact, wonderful angels then the sooner we will realise that throwing them out of their jobs and on to the street is not some moral outrage: it is simply the price that must be paid in order to ensure that our society thrives and that our children are not irretrievably fucked up by the venality of those who claim to protect them.

Sack them: sack them all.

* No deep link. Seriously, I know that you politico fuckheads are pathologically incapable of getting to grips with technology but don't you think, since you try to tell us which technologies we should adopt, that you should understand this web thing?


AndrewWS said...

Words of genius DK. When I joined the civil service back in 1982, I was full of idealism and believed that I would be among similarly idealistic people who were keen to serve this great country of ours. I left it eight years later for the charitable sector, disillusioned and despairing. The unions had the effect of completely poisoning the working atmosphere, sapping morale and intimidating anyone who wanted to work. Their leaders (in some cases, overt Communists) hated this country, they hated the private sector, moaned incessantly about how badly off they were and showed a remarkable unwillingness to work any harder, longer or more efficiently than was actually required.

I regard the whole ghastly 8 years as a complete waste except in so far as it turned me from a 'liberal' into a libertarian - who is now a member of the LPUK.

Anonymous said...

Some of you might argue that this is fair enough—that humans are motivated by self-interest and none of this can be changed. Sure, that is fair enough.

Humans are, indeed, motivated by self-interest. The difference, though, between a modern teacher and Adam Smith's baker, butcher and brewer is both simple and patent: the baker, butcher and brewer who supplied Adam Smith with his dinner did not pretend to be a higher order of life than other human beings.

The so-called public sector is stuffed to the rafters with self-righteous cunts who spend half their time moralising about the evils of greed and the other half sticking their snouts into a trough filled with taxpayers' money.

There is nothing wrong with self-interest. It is, in the end, the thing that makes the economic world go round. There is something immensely wrong with claiming to be a selfless public servant while allowing your profession to be run by a bunch of greedy fuckers whose only motivation is to enrich themselves through picking other people's pockets and to give themselves ever more time off work at the expense of children's futures.

AndrewWS said...

"Profession"?, anonymous, "PROFESSION"????

Professions have standards, require education and training - often continuous throughout the professional's career - and ethics. Not much evidence of those in the civil service or local government, except at the highest level and among the boffins. Teachers - despite the union referred to in DK's post - are a profession. Civil servants are not.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"That is why the unions are such a bunch of fucking cunts and should be destroyed, utterly, at the soonest opportunity".

After fielding a spotty teenager at Norwich is union bashing the next carefully thought out strand in the Libertarian's election strategy?

DK and 'burger man' (Gummer) on the same side as
the Islamic courts in Iran (who also prefer not to recognise trade unions or workers rights) - quite a turn up?

But how does abolishing freedom of association fit in with the Libertarians dying love of peaceful and lawful self determination?

Martin said...

To answer that implied strawman of a questions, unions are fine. When they're voluntary.

In today's world, that's rarely the case, unions being better described as rent seeking, deal making thieves (yes, just as big business very often is. Same thing) than voluntary organizations.

Northampton Saint said...

@charge nurse

Because these unions are no longer about freedom of association, and protecting workers rights from exploitation. They're about building a powerbase, and political influence.
They no longer operate for the benefit of the members, but for the benefit of the exec.

There is nothing in Libertarianism to stop co workers, acting on a local level, voluntarily working togeather to secure better terms from their employers. National unions are now coersive and bullying organisations

the a&e charge nurse said...

"unions are fine - when they're voluntary".

Fair enough, Martin but our host claims;
"unions simply have no place. The only reason that these fuckers exist is because they continue to shore up the Labour Party's finances. We should utterly destroy them, and do it soon".

Destroy the unions ....... and soon.

But how, assuming we are not going down the same road as the Iranian justice system (sic)?

Tomrat said...

To be fair DK I think the main culprit for the common or garden teacher in "supporting" this is actually plain ignorance.

My wife, a teacher, cancelled her subs when she went on maternity leave and hasn't renewed now she's back having been regalled by the many idiocies they tend to bother her with.

This is the real battle we're up against; it is much easier to follow the path of least resistance, whoring myself out to local govt. as I am I will be posting on how this affects this once I'm unlikely to lose my job.

Anonymous said...

BMA acting to protect the interests of its membership? how we laughed....
You really do not understand anything about the BMA do you ?

the a&e charge nurse said...

Tomrat - will the missus also cancel any subsequent pay rise negotiated by union colleagues?

Ex Shop-Steward said...

@Charge Nurse.

Why shouldn't she, as long as she's entiltled to negotiate for herself. If she's any good at her job then she'd be better off that way but the cunting unions would never allow it, would they.

Collective bargaining is pure bollocks because it rewards everyone regardless of ability or effort. That reduces the money available for those that really deserve it.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"she's entiltled to negotiate for herself".

Yes, people are entitled to negotiate for themselves, ex-shop steward, but apart from a small minority with exceptional skills who has sufficient clout to exert any significant influence on negotiations with a more powerful employer (especially in a recession)?

Divide and rule through economic fear, it's the oldest, as well as one of the most effective, tricks in the book.

These dynamics are captured unforgettably by authors like Steinbeck - before shouting about abolishing unions perhaps it might apposite to revisit 'Grapes of Wrath' again?

I'm sure as an ex-shop steward you must remember that one?

Dick the Prick said...

I jacked in my union membership when the shop steward advised us to go on strike for what was a change in circumstances that amounted to fuck all.

Ex Shop-Steward said...

A small minority with exceptional skills? I think you underestimate your fellow workers.

Most workers have little experience of such negotiations but that's because they've never had the opportunity or necessity.

That doesn't mean they couldn't learn.

Why should my useless co-workers (there are quite a few) get the same pay rise as the grafters just because the union has the company by the bollocks?

Trooper Thompson said...

The union's function is to serve its members - they are its customers, not the children.

The problem with state schools isn't caused by the unions, its caused by the fact that the state runs them. Smash up the virtual monopoly of the state, and the worst will be over.

With true competition enabled between schools, the most negative aspects of union power will disappear.

Workers have a right to free association, and libertarians should defend this right.

TheFatBigot said...

Public service unions seem something of a curiosity to me. Their aim is to increase the public sector and secure the highest wages they can for their members. Yet the current government's position seems to be exactly the same.

Unions have always pursued two paths: (i) the betterment of the terms and conditions of employment for their members and (ii) a broader political agenda.

The first is, in my view, entirely legitimate although there is little need for it these days.

The second is, in my view, entirely illegitimate. The Labour Party was created to be their political arm and is still their political arm. They continue to act politically outside the Labour Party as well as within it and they do so funded by membership fees from those of all political hues. It is a disgraceful fraud.

John Demetriou said...

So, because you don't like the public sector and you disagree with unions pressing demands, you want to smash a democratic institution and one that is built on voluntary and freely given support and membership of the individual?

You're no libertarian, you're a joker.

Anonymous said...

IIRC you failed to get into medical school and did some nursing, which goes a long way in explaining your anti-doctor sentiments.

As someone has already commented above, you clearly do not know what you are talking about WRT the BMA. It does not represent doctors well - instead it seems to see it's role as presenting government initiatives to doctors (as a done deal)and weighing in on all sorts of nonsense (esp bansturbation). A large number of us are not members of the BMA.

The MSM and government are overtly hostile to doctors and yet much of the blogosphere seems to see us as part of the corrupt establishment. We are, only in so far as most of us are employed by the NHS.

Medics are not especially political but we do have our politicians who are no different from any other politician. They represent us in the same way that your MP 'represents' you.

I agree with almost every post you have ever made but you need to get that nursey chip off your shoulder and realise that many medics are (small 'c') conservative and quite a few have strong libertarian leanings.

Devil's Kitchen said...



You delight in quoting the screed above, but you seem to have missed the quite crucial bit...

"But in the days of buckets of equality legislation and the National Minimum Wage, unions simply have no place."

I am not against unions per se, but the unions that we see now have little relationship to those 150 years ago and more.

IN the 70s, the unions actively destroyed jobs, they denied work to individuals because said individuals wouldn't join the union (or were members of the "wrong" union).

The unions are not clubs of plucky workers fighting for their rights—especially when those rights have already been enshrined in law.

No, the unions of today are gangs of extortionists and have been ever since they were recognised in law.

So yes, I support unions—but I do not support these unions.


P.S. Demetriou, as I've said before, I see that you are wheeling out the "I am considerably more libertarian than yeeeooow" card again.

And as I have also said before: grow up.

Anonymous said...

DK. The anon from 12.39 here again. I might add that would agree with the overall sentiment of your post and I'm sorry to carp on about a fairly insignificant.

The BMA is rotten and I wish for its demise, but most of its members are not corrupt (that's pretty insulting) just not political. I am pretty sure that the BMA does not fund any political party and comparison with teachers' or other unions is way wide of the mark.

Tomrat said...


As the shop steward said why shouldn't she?

Delving more into our personal situation my wife, recently back from maternity leave, who is a biology teacher, has been given an A-level and a BTEC (basically an A-level for those who can't cope with the already simple A-level courses; expect to see more of these I'm every subject) in chemistry to ease over the maternity leave cover of a exiting chemistry teaching colleague.

Now why when her contract stipulates biology as her subject should she not be able to negotiate a higher level of pay when she will be essentially revising a syllabus outside of her remit and rewriting tons of course material (her colleague has not left the most complete set of materials for her to go on)?

For the record I think Trooper Thompson is right on the money here; unions become less if a problem when their not catering to the simple shopper alone; cut off the states dead handand who knows where education will go to.

We've come to a peculiar state of affairs where continued union existence is reliant not on the beligerence of big industrialist jackboots on workers faces, but that of the states - further this is something the unions actively encourage, otherwise there would be little need for them.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"the unions of today are gangs of extortionists and have been ever since they were recognised in law".

I take a different view, Devil.
The Union Recognition - Employment Relations Act (1999) did not arise in a vacuum.

Do you think similar legislation would be possible in those countries where union rights are fragile or non-existent (Iran, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, etc)

I accept that there is a downside to some TU activity but one seldom hears non-union members grumbling about improved pay or conditions that have been brought about following the efforts of unionised colleagues.

And forget the Union Recognition Act does not apply to small outfits like yours (<21 employees).
Workers in such organisations are presumably free to negotiate terms and conditions with their boss on a 1:1 basis unencumbered by this legislation or union gangsters?

Anonymous said...

Dear DK,

I have been reading your blog with fascination for years, however for the first time I am stunned by my total disbelief - I am yet another anon who has cancelled his BMA membership, since they are so totally unrepresentative of medics + students.

When you note the American-style debt we are taking on after 6 years of uni for sub-nurse wages (nurses whose fees are paid by the NHS, with a bursary on top) I can only laugh at the idea of an effective set of negotiations with the state monopoly.

The minimum student loan, without means testing, under the latest system will result in approximately 50k of debt, which I am not sure is repayable in what a future average career will be (and don't look to the current pay scales for a guide - consultant jobs are being phased out, GPs abolished...).

There is talk of medical unemployment, even as we import doctors from abroad.

So some med students will have 50k of debt, but no job.

Are these foreign doctors necessarily better than UK doctors? Well, strangely, in most countries a firm grasp of the culture and language is considered beneficial so this may not be much good for patients either. Others obviously disagree.

But does the BMA care about the patients, or the doctors, or the med students ... ? I leave it to you to decide. I would dearly love to see you do a fisking of the BMA, however it might take you the rest of your career...

the a&e charge nurse said...

I fear your plea may fall on deaf ears, anonymous (9:26) - the Devil, and many of his co-travelers regard working conditions for medics (including training and pay) purely as a matter for the market.

They have long argued that there are too few doctors in the UK and as a result they can demand inflated salaries (if we take potential for wealth generation over their entire career).

If you want to change your situation then your best bet lies with a more effective forms of group organisation - or what is generally referred to as a trades union.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:26 again - charge nurse, this is as may be, but unless something changes large numbers of us will be reducing the number of doctors in the UK by emigrating: there are still those among us that want to be able to afford to get married, own a house and not be overcome by debt.

Unfortunately the idea of a market in healthcare is an illusion - pre-NHS there was a market: an age where doctors would look at crippled manual workers and ask themselves "can this patient afford a wheelchair..." and where doctors would spend large amounts of time in the company of the wealthy worried well rather than those the NHS currently pays them to attend. This is surely a good thing - doctors study medicine to help sick people. Many of our former fellow-students at uni (including people that dropped out of medicine) are now rich bankers/management consultants.

Of course, by spending a fortune on involving private firms to improve management in the NHS, lots of money will be saved and we will never go back to those dark times when the sick/poor/elderly (often the same person) would be left for dead, since these are the people important to them - far more so than to the doctors obviously.

This is apparently the current government policy so it must be right.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Anonymous (10:18) - I have been called many names by the Devil's market obsessed acolytes (statist, prohibitionist, socialist, etc) for supporting the very points you make.

I am rather old school, and bit of a traditionalist to boot (so hopelessly out of step in today's computer savvy age) but I had very serious reservations about recent developments in medical training (MTAS, etc).

I hope you get on the consultant training ladder and that your efforts are rewarded eventually - it sounds like you've got your head screwed on.

Anonymous said...

Unions are a reasonable idea. It is Socialism that stinks.

If the Unions dropped Socialism and focused upon looking after their members all would gain greatly.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"It is Socialism that stinks" - yet its principles informed the core ethos of the NHS (guaranteed treatment, irrespective of the ability to pa, etc).

No place for socialism, the NHS amongst Libertarians and now, it seems, none for trades unionists, either?

Weston Bay said...

DK, thankyou for reminding me why I'm not a libertarian.

That is all.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Oops, should PAY (not pa).

the a&e charge nurse said...

Dear, oh dear, should say PAY - and not, 'should PAY', or 'not pa'.

bewick said...

Such a shame that the teaching unions have become politicised.

20 years or so ago I was responsible for Industrial Relations in a very major Northern Local Authority. (after a long time career I saw sense and went into the private sector - which actually paid MUCH better.)

The "usual suspects" such as Unison, NUPE, GMB, TGWU were complete pains in the arse and made daily demands most of which were just laughable.
The Local reps were usually left-wingers who were not good enough to actually progress in their careers so sought a compensatory role - to rile management and get paid time off to do it! Those who COULD do their jobs weren't interested in becoming Union reps!
Most of the paid full-time union organisers weren't much better but one or two were much more sensible and pragmatic.
One at least of those is now in the House of Lords as a result.

At exactly the same time all the teaching unions were far far more amenable and gentle and respectful and were similarly treated.
At THAT time any of their demands were usually directed at conditions which were designed to allow them to best provide for their pupils and students. Their approach usually meant that management was able to seriously consider, even implement, their suggestions and to correct conditions which actually had been detrimental. A PROPER working relationship.

If Gummer is correct then it looks like the cancer of ME ME ME has now spread to teaching. What a shame.I'd guess that the General Secretary discovered that by shooting off her mouth and becoming a full time union official was far easier and far better paying than actually teaching or progressing through the teaching

As a slight aside I well remember a new Botany teacher in the early 60s who deviated from our A level curriculum. Being feisty and "liberated" my class upbraided him for doing this. At that point he gave us a stern lecture to the effect that his job was to EDUCATE us and not just to teach to pass the exams. Later I realised just how right he was and how professional. How many teachers now can even THINK about doing that I wonder?

the a&e charge nurse said...

"the cancer of ME ME ME has now spread to teaching".

Oh, the irony coming from a Tory MP unafraid to manipulate his own children to make some arcane political point about Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

And the same John Gummer who put in a £9 GRAND gardening bill.

Surely, the ME ME ME exhibited by our very own burger king makes the demands by a few hard pressed teachers look rather inconsequential?

Somewhat Annoyed said...

OK You pathetically craven pieces of shit in the power structures of the NUSWT. Please open your exercise books at a clean page.
Here are some learning modules for you. Please try to finish as many as possible:

1. Maths: Find out how many fuckmuppets it takes to destroy an education system.

2. Physics: Put yourself in the plasma stream of a fusion reactor and then see if there is an omniscient super-being.

3. Geography: Can human beings survive at the bottom of one of the Atlantic Trenches without a vehicle or any equipment? Go and find out.

4. Biology: Can a twisted socialist teacher survive chugging back a whole bottle of Clostridium botulinum?

5. History: An empathy exercise. Imagine you aren't a total fucking cunt.

6. Modern Languages: Translate the phrase 'Totally corrosive fucking socialist bastard' into five European languages.

7. Chemistry: Which acid would dissolve the members of the Executive Committee of the TUC most quickly?

Roger Thornhill said...

Nowt wrong with "putting teachers first" if the said union kept out of the whole concept of Education and stuck to defending individual teachers from exploitation, coercion, unions were originally intended, btw.

A teaching union has as much right to interfere in education, as much right to define or influence pedagogy, as the TGWU has in how to design cars or what cars should be built. In other words: NONE. Their role should be about the relationship between teacher and employer.

If teachers want to discuss their profession - and I do think it should be (with corresponding demands upon them of professionalism by the employers) - then surely it is done outside of a Union?

the a&e charge nurse said...

"If teachers want to discuss their profession - and I do think it should be (with corresponding demands upon them of professionalism by the employers) - then surely it is done outside of a Union?"

Surely the two are inextricably linked, Roger?

Lets consider another profession, nursing (well I would say that, wouldn't I).
Research shows;
*The NHS has serious problems in recruiting and retaining nursing and midwifery staff.
*The underlying causes of these problems include pay, the changing nature of jobs, how valued the staff feel, and other employment opportunities.
*The crisis is most acute in inner cities and teaching trusts, particularly in London, where some turnover rates range from 11% to 38%.
*High turnover results in higher costs and lower morale and may affect patient care.

Meanwhile 40+% of nursing students are now recruited from overseas.

Some problems are too big for the individual, and the tidy demarkation (suggested by Roger) is not so straightforward in the workplace since various factors are interlinked.

Martin S said...

Mr Gummer failed to notice an important point. The union IS putting its customers first. The teachers who are its members are its only customers. They do not care about pupils.

In fact, the more militant the teacher, the less they cared about the children, I noticed as a child.

constructive interference said...

Open the whole thing up to the private sector.

Although it would increase the cost of entering the market, I'd prefer it if the private sector were not given the opportunity to 'take over' State schools or property.

It'd be nice to see the private sector set up their own schools (small, or otherwise) in any area they please and set any entrance requirement that met the same standards of legality as those of a private sector employer.

There's no need to be dictatorial, quite the opposite, in fact; it is in open competition that unions will be transformed beyond recognition or perish without trace.

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