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Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00

Lay members need more say in unions

I believe that greater democracy would be achieved in trade unions if all officers were elected and had to stand for re-election every five years.

I have been following with interest various opinions on democracy and the links between trade unions and the Labour Party in the Star.

The Labour Party is often derided for its lack of democracy and for parachuting candidates into constituencies. Rightly so.

The key problem is that the leadership endorses candidates whom the local party might not want or indeed vote for.

I am a member of a large general union and I believe one of the reasons it is slow to move is because many of our officers are appointed, not elected.

This mirrors the Labour Party's action of placing candidates into constituencies who then generally follow the leadership.

We had the indignity of our union placing advertisements in national newspapers - not the Star, by the way - which told members to work longer for our pensions because it was the best deal that our negotiators could get.

So all the stops were pulled out for acceptance. But is this really the best we can do?

The trade union movement is big and capable of producing mass opposition - when united - against government.

Are there opposing arguments to greater democracy in the unions by regular elections rather than appointments?

Chaz Stoll


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