Archive for the ‘Union’ Tag

Revolting French Workers

You have to admire the French, they do know how to protest. Somewhere between one and three million took to the streets today in a national strike against the policies of the French government as the unions unite against the economic crisis, defend employment, government spending and public services. Protesting seems to be in the Gaelic blood, French fishermen often blockade the Channel ports disrupting trade and tourists alike. They have also blockaded roads and famously destroyed the carcases of British lambs in protest against cheap imports that were impacting on their own sheep farmers.

A common theme to these protests is the inaction of the French authorities who seem willing to allow the protests to take their course no matter how disruptive. If British unions blockaded the port of Dover the police would quickly take action to clear away the protesters and get the traffic and ferries moving again.One wonders if the echoes of the French revolution still resonate around the Élysée Palace and its their concern that they may loose power in some way that restrains the authorities action. While there have been protests in the UK they have been very muted, only those relating to the use of foreign labour building a refinery for Total Oil have been sucessful to a limited extent.

Clearly things may change as the economic depression deepens and more people find their livelihoods threatened or destroyed. In France, however, it would seem the country is heading for its own été de mécontentement. Probably not the best place to take a holiday this year unless you are a committed Europhile Unionist.

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Old Boy Network – Opps Naughty Naughty

The construction industry has always had a reputation for not being the most squeaky clean of commercial sectors. Price fixing, poor employment practices, cutting corners and a love of costly variations have made most people weary of getting involved in building works. The horror stories are many and Channel 5 made a whole series out of the subject that made one realise cowboys exist in every town. Its also been a bit of an old boys network with information shared between contractors through casual and informal networks.

So, its not too much of a surprise to find some firms have been using a blacklist of trades people to ensure they do not get lumbered with staff who may wish to complain about poor site safety, be too interested in trade union activities or are considered to be poor workers. The company that kept the list and advised the construction firms on who not to employ has now ceased trading and the owner faces prosecution under the data protection act.

Trying to protect ones interests is natural, unfortunatly the normal recruitment processes are not very good at ensuring the right people get chosen. We all know how the information on application forms may over state or exaggerate the applicants experience or knowledge and references are often useless. Perhaps if trades people in Britain had to be licensed before they can legally work in a trade employers, including private individuals, would have more confidence in employing building staff. Licences would only be issued to those who have passed all the exams and have proved they are competent to do the job. Those that subsequently fail to make the grade or prove to be unreliable would have their licences revoked and the need for blacklists would be removed.