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Look at our Laundry: (back to UnionFailure.html#where-does-union-money-go)

  • Steve Hart, Regional General Secretary, Unite Transport and General Workers UnionThree complaints about the branch employment lawyer who goes to court without evidence [more below]
  • Employment lawyers paid up to 66p per member per year - or maybe they pay to get referrals: the accounts given to Amicus by Stoy Hayward pre merger look at a glance as though they're different from accounts given by Transport and General to Hard Dowdy and then to the government office that certifies the union as independent and from there to members. Obviously Hard Dowdy have their membership of a professional association to consider, as well as the reputation of the name Hard Dowdy when accounting for pension funds trade unions and charities. Which isn't their real name - they're part of Chantrey Vellacott DFK LLP who for do this line of work under the Hard Dowdy name. Not that anything fishy would ever happen to pension funds obviously: Transport and General would be first to agree. Although Hard Dowdy's T&G union accounts seem to contradict Stoy Hayward's: Amicus executive council minutes, considering Stoy Hayward's due dilligence report on Transport and General pre-merger "Legal procedures were different in a number of ways - the TGWU charged solicitors’ referral fees," while the Hard Dowdy accounts at the Certification office - http://www.certoffice.org/links/pdf/375T_2004T.pdf - seem to show the TGWU paying solicitors fees on the whole, not charging. [2003 2004 2005 2006 2007Q1]

    Hard Dowdy seem a lot hotter on scams as seen from the top of the hierachy, who hire them, than they are on the statutory duty to make ordinary members at the bottom of the hierachy aware of the accounts, or even exposing scams at the top to victims at the bottom. This is what they suggest in writing about their sideline of charity accounting: investigations are "confidential" to those at the top of the tree.

    In the unfortunate event of a fraud being discovered, we have police accredited fraud investigators who can undertake confidential investigations. We have designed a fraud management plan for a major charity (income £30m) working with trustees, executive directors and heads of department. To help embed an anti-fraud culture, we ran a series of seminars for trustees and staff and we are the appointed independent whistleblower contact for the organisation.

    So if you work for that charity and follow their staff handbook in reporting a fraud, you leak to an "independent" organisation which survives by repeat business from "trustees, executive directors and heads of department", who could bethe fraudsters but usually are people putting-up with bad services, bad hiring and firing, zero useful training, zero clinical supervision, patronizing and bullying of junior staff or whatever other likely accusation.

    A bit like the position in other jobs where if you get bullied out of work for taking maternity leave of being ill or just caught-up in the chaos, the staff handbook recommends that you should have joined a trades union which is chosen by trustees, executive directors, heads of department - anyone really who is involved in unfairly dismissing people, managing chaos, hiking up the senior management team's wages or fiddling the company pension. Hard Dowdy find a common purpose in both markets that can't be attributed to their Chantry Vellecot name, who choose not to risk their reputation as Enron's auditors did.
  • Getting back to unions, there are 400 staff for 750,000 working members - less than £20 per year spent on staff per member, out of more than £120 paid per member to the organisation, depending on the branch. The £20 figure assumes that no kick-backs are recieved from no-win-no-fee lawyers for settling lucrative personal injury cases early with minimum fuss. After all, Rider Support Services appeared to be a union and funded a union magazine from the same publishers as T&G's. An extreme guess would be that staff of trades unions are funded entirely as a claims management agency, with money from no-win no-fee lawyers, while 100% of membership fees go to an unnacounted zone.

    So it looks as though staff of unions know that they are running a scam - probably not the extreme one above - but are not interested or able to do anything about it: there are too few of them per member, the method of canvassing members about who gets jobs is flawed, and nothing is going to change. For some reason, they do not go public and set-up a proper unon.
  • Every now and then Unite is reported as though representing its members, for example on TV with video of protesters and their printed placards saying something like "Unite the union: stop closures of final salary pensions schemes" which is very cheap publicity for Unite. Amicus has 83 references to final salary on its web site, most of them press releases about how they deplore schemes being closed to new members.

    An obvious solution is that the schemes should never be controlled by senior managers with their inflated final salaries, nor the liquidators who sometimes follow: they should belong to the people who contributed to the schemes and pay-out according to contribution. That way, they wouldn't have to close. At the very least, they should be separated from employer's control. If for some reason they are so closely part of the company that the pension fund is part of the company's assets when it goes bust, then contributors should know this and ask for something in return for the extra risk, like control of the company or separation of ex-employee's pensions from the firm.

    In contrast, the Unite TGW union web site seems to side with the employers.
    .
    Robert Maxwell - Mirror Group Newspapers pension fund's effective  trustee"Insolvent companies pose a real threat to the security of final salary pension schemes.
    • At present when a company goes bankrupt the money owed by the company to the pension scheme is not a priority debt - it comes behind money owed to the banks and the Inland Revenue. The T&G campaigns to make it a priority debt.
    • This union has members in United Engineering Forgings where after a lifetime of employment employees face losing up to 70% of their pension entitlement.
    • We have members at Richards of Aberdeen Ltd, where more than 18 months after the appointment of an Independent Trustee the ex-employees are still waiting to see if they will get any pension at all.
    • We know of cases where after 30 or 40 years of paying into a pension scheme members are ending up with no pension at all. "

The T&G believes that a pension protection fund should be set up out of central government funds and not by way of a levy which would add yet further costs to the provison of final salary schemes, and would give employers further excuse not to fund final salary schemes"

In summery, Unite-T&G can get free publicity when a pension collapses by saying something on the subject.

What it says is what Robert Maxwell would have said shortly before Mirror Group Newpapers' pension scheme collapsed and after he raided it. The union position is that employer's pensions are usually just that, to raid, mismanage, open or close as they want, but if a collapse is so sudden and headline-grabbing that politicians get involved, then a taxpayer subsidy would be nice to smooth things over. The union regrets that final salary pension schemes are closing, but doesn't mind the Director of Final Salaries managing the scheme, after the Director of Pension Contribution Holidays and before the Receiver. The union is on the side of ex-managers with the highest final salaries who ran a paternalistic or dodgy scheme, and not the contributors who have paid the union for 30 or 40 years alongside their pension. Amicus even repudiated a strike on the issue. In the words of Tony Woodley of the T&G:

“What planet is this man off to oppose a windfall tax [or an employer controlling a pension fund] - when you have excessive, obscene profits and when every household is struggling to fill their fridges, let alone their car? This fella is in the wrong party. He should be working for the CBI.”

Amicus even runs a paternal pension scheme for its own employees and ex-employees, which for a union that lost £3.6million in the year up to 2008 and is prone to rapid restructuring and extravagent senior staff, is a worry for the other Amicus staff. This is quoted on Ian's Unite site report of an Amicus executive committee:

"29. UNITE has taken a large share in the Peoples Press Printing Society and as a result Tony Burke (an Assistant General Secretary) is on its management committee. UNITE is also working with the Morning Star in a variety of other ways. It was agreed to pilot subscriptions to the Morning Star at 10 Regional Offices and the Esher, Quorn and Wortley Hall training centres for a full review after six months. The Morning Star will provide daily coverage of the Amicus Regional Sector Conferences in June and have a stand at the conference centre."

[...]

"48. Five employer-nominated trustees were elected for the new Amicus pension scheme. These were two of the “senior management team” (Graham Goddard and Doug Collins) and three NEC members (Steve Davison, Dave Nestor and Agnes Tolmie)."

Oddly enough the T&G part of Unite's press office, run by an ex-soviet journalist at the time, could not bring itself to argue for pensioners' investments and farmed the work out to a PR firm. The PR firm told them that it was wrong for an employer to force or encourage employees to pay into a specific pension fund and then to steal the money. Or to quote more directly:

"APCO’s team added a real creative dimension to the work of the T&G. They made possible a more wide-ranging and effective campaign" - Bill Morris

No statement is made here about Amicus's trustworthyness to appoint trustees who don't flush money into the Peoples Press Printing Society, nor about any similarity in appearance or grandiosity between Robert Maxwell or any union general secretary, living, dead or unhealthy, physically of mentally. Some abuse is intended by showing the two side-by-side. Anything more specific is for the reader to judge. As is the argument that the in-house PR office would have put, run as it is by a former soviet journalist and communist party supporter.

"Workers must not own their jobs, even if the employer runs out of money and owes lots to the staff pension fund. Workers must not own their pensions. We believe in doing things in the right order. First, all monopoly capitalist employers have to merge with each other, then there has to be state control, and then in hundreds of years the state will wither away because we will only be interested in working in co-ops and being nice to each other and stuff. A union is not going to allow the last bit before the middle bit, even if that's what it says we're for several times at the beginning of our rule book. Sorry."

  • More laundry: a retiring official who didn't turn-up to recognition agreement, disciplinary or dismissal meetings and was "too busy" to help prepare a case. He avoided a door-stepping meeting until the receptionist phoned him to say "it's embarassing", so he finally showed me upstairs, saw the case, and said "I'm too busy to read a case. The most I've had is two or three sheets of paper with bullet points. Once or twice I've had a ring binder". He didn't say what other job he might be doing for the union members' salaries, as he certainly hadn't been canvassing member's needs or attending union-recognition-agreement meetings with management.

  • More laundry: a new official who emails any branch members on the email list after a meeting to say it "functions exactly as a branch is supposed to function, making donations to working class charities" after watching them "put on one side" a motion to fund proper legal insurance & lawyers for branch members until the regional office's services can be sorted-out. "because what you really want is a lawyer", and then refuse a lawyer because "we've tried it" (for an member of the committee in their own employment dispute) "but it went on-and-on". Nobody confirmed that my request to email all members with this motion had in fact been sent-out by the branch secretary, so I have to assume that it had been sent-out and no response had been recieved. It turns out that Edwards Duthie solicitors do sponsor branch banners even if their employment lawyer service is described as "crap" by a branch activist ("they never read anything") and you can see an example of the sort of banner they sponsor below if you click on the .pdf link. The banner was an item of expenditure on the branch accounts (shown only to those who turn-up to the annual meeting) dispite being available free to other customers of Edwards Duthie. Maybe the branch activists missed a trick. Just imagine. They did all that work finding the very best lawyers for their members, and then, just by accident, they got "crap" lawyers who sponsered things and they never took a chance of sponsorship and paid for the banner instead. What bad luck.

    So committee members get Bindman and Partners funded out of branch funds to argue their case and ordinary £12 a month members do no. All agree the union legal service is crap. The member who most likely had been defended by large payments on the branch account budget to Bindman and Partners walked-up and wished luck, saying that Edwards Duthie are "Crap: they don't read anything", but he didn't write a cheque or ask his colleagues to do so.


    This is bizarre. Why should a union official rub shoulders with this bunch who are nothing to do with anything? And in paid time? Why should they be allowed to meet in one of the ground floor meeting rooms of Transport House? Why should they be allocated a "significant proportion" of member's subscriptions, according to a statement by T&G leadership about negotiations with Amicus pre-merger. I write these questions because it's obvious that they should not be: they should either be elected with a proper electoral system, or they should meet like all the other causes and groups and meet-ups at their own expense in their own space. Employers should insist that "time off for union duties" is only given for union branch meetings that have some way of canvassing opinion from ordinary members about what should be done and in these days of internet freebies it is not difficult for them to find a way. An employer who funds "time off for union duties" for some members' perfectly valid and sincere political hobbies, but doesn't fund time-off for another employee's similar work is asking for trouble and an unspoken alliance has formed without anything being said over the years between employers who quite like a crap union and a union branch committee who quite like being crap, because they can fund solidarity campaigns and the like rather than blow the whistle and set-up a proper union if, as they all agree, the regional office is crap.


    About the new paid official. He didn't look stupid. Why act stupid? Nobody knows. His own words were "I wash my hands of this" when "I will help you put your case together from the obviously large collection of ducuments you have brought" would have been more in line with what members want. "And you can take your leaflet with you", the man said. Whatever that means he was talking in a coded way, and as someone paid by members and responding to them when they have suffered this kind of thing from an employer, I think he should be sacked.


  • More Laundry: a regional secretary (see above) who writes

    "I am taking the unusual step of writing to you about the forthcoming mayoral election"

    no - that's the wrong letter. The one with the photo on it. Funny I didn't get a letter like this when Ken Livingstone wasn't a Labour Party candidate but his policies were the better. Maybe this Labour loyalist is new to town: maybe he used to live in Liverpool or somwhere, he moved to London for the new job, and then thought

    "blimey, my job is union regional general secretary but this candidate who Londoners respect but are a bit sick of seems to have some wonderful policies and I just want to spend petty cash on telling my members all about him and his congestion charges and olympic bids and opaque accounts and bendy busses that squash cyclists and circle of partners who have some of them gone a bit funny but civil servants are still meant to OK budgets for and deciding that manufacturing in London was dead an beyond support all the other wonderful things".

    I never get letters from any new regional bank managers or electricity suppliers to express this delight, nor from my council or pension fund or anywhere. Expression of delight in dead-bead candidates who have just joined a favoured political party and were probably better at their jobs before they joined is a unique habit of Unite regional managers.

    The ordinary letter on the usual letterhead without the picture comes after several reminders and says that he will not to fund other lawyers than the union's own panel, despite a law saying that he has to, and dispite a string of compaints about the existing lawyer, dispite a statement about the existing legal panel that doesn't hang-together, dispite secrecy about what these "procedures in place" might be. The man doesn't answer letters from members and if the pressure from reps within the internal world of volunteer committees gets so great that he deals with a complain, he asks his secretary to pass-on a message rather than showing his face directly. If this were a Financial Services Authority regulated organisation I'd like to know if he'd be in prison for this.


    union-legal-service-solicitor To be fair, there has been an improvement: the branch now has a famous union legal firm to represent it rather than a bunch from Barking who sponsor branch banners (if you don't live in London: Barking is not in South London and so an odd place to choose a lawyer to represent the South London branch), but reports to another union, the Law Society, by smaller members, say that it is reluctant to expell the big fish of the referral-fee-scam market and note that at least one union lawyer does all the employment law work for free as a bribe to get the more lucrative personal injury work.


  • Empty office blocks where members are not encouraged to go. If you ring your call is not returned. Edwards Duthie solicitors offered to use some of the empty space, as do Hard Dowdy accountants. If you write you a union office you don't get a reply - even recorded delivery letters or letteres forwarded by an MP. If you do go to doorstep an official, or your rep does this with you, buildings like the Woodbery building in North London have remarkably few people walking in and out of the door as you site in the lobbey, and nobody in the empty corridors. If the office is closed for repairs, as it was a year or two ago, there's plenty of room for officials to move to Transport House which is in part let-out as "conference suite" and now that T&G has merged with Amicus, Amicus are able to sell-off a large stately home that they used for offices without major staff cutbacks. Office blocks, like bogus local committees, keep up the appearance of activity. They have ceased publishing minutes of their executive committee meetings, but unofficial minutes report this of the union's three colleges: "The General Secretary reported that Whitehall College remained mothballed, there were no plans for change at Quorn, and Esher was being refurbished."

  • Regional elections for the volunteer National Executive Committee or the Regional General Secretary jobs which have negligible and diminishing turnout each year because the ballots don't tell you anything that makes much sense - they start by listing who has been nominated by what branch as though you have to be nominated. In law you cannot be "unreasonably excluded" from standing...
    http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1992/plain/ukpga_19920052_en#pt1-ch4-pb2
    ...but this is vague and the three Certification Office tribunals keep lists of people who complained that they were unreasonably exlcuded, then had to withdraw their case because they were expelled from the union.

The regional general secretary on the right is a fashionable Labour party member, and most likely the central office of the Labour Party is the biggest recipient of money from union members, whatever official acocunts say about small voluntary contributions from a political fund. Another slice of money goes to local self-election committees who are the only people available to field complaints when the paid staff avoid returning calls or answering letters. In South London most of the branch's six activists (elected on a turnout of six to control a £20,000 bank account) are in the photo below. They are all or mostly members of the 39-strong Communist Party of Britain.


What the two parties have in common is taking money out of union accounts. (The Conservative party also recieves slightly smaller amounts in donations made on behalf of shareholders and other stakeholders by PLCs like Fidelity Unit Trusts while Liberal MPs pretend to be local counsellors in order to get in their local papers.)

What's left in the petty cash tin for tribunal claims is 66p per member per year for employment lawyers according to an interview with The Lawyer by Unite the Union's Transport and General Section legal director, or charging solicitors referral fees if you prefer to believe the Stoy Hayward accountant's due dilligence report commissioned by Amicus pre-merger.


e-mail recieved 24/4/8:

"I'm afraid to say, that having been involved in the TGWU for nearly forty years, in Region 1, that the TGWU could leave its self open to suggestion that there may be some history of funny business."

Assuming it's OK to write "funny business" next to the name of an organisation, this is the context, just to be sure:

  • "charging lawyers referral fees", since the the The Collective Conditional Fee Agreements Regulations 2000 according to Amicus's report from Stoy Hayward, of the union accounting to the Certification Office that it paid for legal services to members in the same year,
  • "proud tradition" of donating money to organisations such as trades councils which don't all publish receipts or accounts to non-members, alongside groups with "campaign" in the title that also don't publish receipts or accounts to non members. I'm making the logical leap here of saying that what these organisations have in common is not some grand working class solidarity but not publishing receipts and only publishing accounts to those who go to ask at the annual general meeting. This is a sideline from the main point about lawyers; I don't think it's what this controversy is about but just mention it.
  • Publishing information to those who use search has been free since the 1990s and trades union officials would have known after reading email addresses with •freeserve or •freeuk in them, emphasising that free web pages were available. Union officials might not have been the sort of people to write a web page in the 1990s - they had another job to do - but their offices could publish information cheaply.
    Most unions like the T&G had early web pages with pictures of Bill Morris and such.
  • of the Certification Office's report of a complaint about the cab driver's branch which would count as funny business in both senses to most people
  • lack of accountability generally about where the money goes if not officials laywers or political funds: "nobody knows" it states on another page of this site and it's in the public interest that those who are let down by trades unions have web sites to google about the reasons.

The same 24/4/8 email follows with an anecdote about a late regional general secretary, who's daughter has just written in after reading the two paragraphs together and perhaps little else of this site about coping with union let-downs. Apart from the "I'm afraid to say..." lines, which make sense as an agreement with one or two of the points made on this site after a long reading, the email goes on to say Mr was

  • very rude to a boy who wanted accountability about where a £100,000 Trade Council Fund went,
  • didn't account
  • the title of the account seemed opaque or deceptive to an insider at the time who did not know where it was spent

I know nothing about the people involved. I type plausible statements. A quote on the activist's intranet in about 2008 read something like

"I didn't like Bill Morris but at least you'd get a reply from him, albeit a rude one.
With this lot you just don't get an answer"

Another quote in the papers about Mr Dwomy, another colleague at the time who:

"Could have a fight in an empty room"

It doesn't suggest that the rude general secretary pinched money. Someone who read "I'm afraid to say..." next to the name of her late father and nothing else on this site, and perhaps statements about other union general secretaries of other unions, was worried and wrote to say so on 24/10/9:

"As [the person's] daughter, I can assure you that his reputation for upholding the highest moral standards, and for working tirelessly on behalf of his members, is richly deserved. The implication that he was involved in 'funny business' is as offensive as it is untrue."

I would love to hear from her again but don't want to bother her by replying about self-deception amongst union bosses, their families, those around them, or the journalists who claim against all the statistics the unions are unpopular but will not do the work fo saying why they fail. It's like a similar problem of volunteers who do great work as unpaid reps but don't have the time or skills or nouse to set-up a proper union that does the work best left to specialists for them and leaves them only with the work best left to volunteers. After a few attempts to get a union official to help a colleage - maybe by booking a meeting with the official and bringing the colleage - it's easy to guess why a lot of reps give up or don't volunteer in their next job because the system is crap, but they don't set-up a better one.

Self-deception amongst such folk who pretend that their charging referral fees to lawyers, or the understanding that lawyers would not charge, was not wrong wicked and dispicably cruel to those they made a living pretending to represent. All of us mix up right and wrong but "elected" union folk srtike me as bizarrely unable to tell right from wrong, possibly because they are exempt from registration with the financial services authority.

I think this is like the daughter of an Equitable Life director saying "I can assure you my father was the only one who thought the figures added-up", or the daughter of someone from West Midlands Regional Crime Squad in the 70s saying "I saw the program 'Life on Mars' and am shocked that anyone should use the words 'funny business' about my late father".

Doubtless there were goodies and baddies at the time who's battleground is now forgotten; the difference between what a bad person could get away with and what a good person could do to make things better, and the way the battleground was seen, is lost in fog and respect for the dead. It's hard enough to know what's right and wrong amongst the living without going-back decades, but here goes.

It would be hard for anybody, let alone a regional general secretary who paid for a national office, not to know about a system that's still in place except for a bit of centralisation and merging I think. Life of a Trade Union Lawyer, an article in the New Law Journal of May 2009 reveals a unpaid lawyers settling early and sticking to the easy cases as early as the 1960s, and the degree of scam could only have increased with the complexity of employment law and the new tribunal system later-on. All that has happened this century is that the idea of no-win no-fee lawyers has been formalised and made possible for more organisations; the pretence that members pay dues for accountable service is thin.

The failure to run online or postal elections for obscure self-election committees is still normal; the secrecy of obscure budgets to anyone except members of a group who go to the annual general meeting or perhaps a regional office is still normal, except that regional offices have used chaos as an excuse to take some of the bank accounts.

A simlar site to this has quoted reports of employment tribunal hearings where an ex-employee of the Manufacturing and Science Federation recounts implausable statements about branch accounts with names like "MSF Guildhall" and if I'd read to the bottom there's probably an implication that the general secretary was diverting the money - maybe to fill a hole in the pension fund, or his pocket, to pay for lawyers on the last employment tribunal case against the union, or who knows but that's much more specific than

"TGWU could leave its self open to suggestion that there may be some history of funny business"

The Certification Officer's account of a complaint about the cab driver's branch in Region One is specific. It describes a system of self-election committees and private budgets. A difficulty for elected paid officials (regional general secretaries at the time) is that such folk are active voters amongst a low turn-out, and sometimes gate-keepers to who can stand. Probably some people tried to make the best of it all tirelessly.

I think a regional general secretary should have been interested in making accounts accountable as law and honest business sense dictate. They are not now; I presume they were not then. To me and anyone who reads down as far as the bottom of this back page on an obscure web site with broken formatting - assuming anyone does at all - this is the context. It's not a suggestion that the man took £100,000 out of petty cash without a receipt; just that there were no receipts that the member could get hold of at a time when this man was secretary. It might look shocking to the daughter of the late trades union regional general secretary, but she is probably the only one who reads it in that way and possibly the only one who reads it at all.

Here's the quote which makes more sense well-apart from the first paragraph:

"I remember [the] - then Regional Sec. of Region 1 - ripping some kid to pieces over the phone, because he had asked about a 'Trades Council Fund' held by Region 1: the boy thought it referred to the trades councils, but [he] was emphatic that the lad had no business asking questions - and I never did find out what precisely the £100,000 was actually for - except it was not for the Trades Councils."

With luck the next generation of trades union members, who are used to seeing MPs expenses reported on the news and googling facts at whim, will hold their unions more accountable whichever unions they join. Meanwhile the older generation never did have much reputation to defend so far as I can tell from this Mori poll. Most of the questions were about the politics of trades unions, which is silly because if they had been accountable for money they would have been accountable for what they did in more political ways, and Mori didn't follow the money. Anyway the more general questions simply don't show a "reputation for upholding the highest" of any standards, as far as the organisations go. There is far more respect for the need to have trade unions than there is for the leadership in practice, among union members as well as non-members. It is a bit like talking to tory backbenchers about their days at boarding school: they seem in favour of it and not in favour at the same time and suggest no change.

Q I am going to read out some statements relating to trade unions.
For each one, please tell me from this card, how strongly you agree or disagree with it?
[I am not going to read similar statements about the press and its publishers.]

"Trade union leaders are out of touch with their members"
  All adults TU members
  Agree Disagree Net Agree Disagree Net
  % % % % % ±%
August 1993 45 22 +23 48 30 +18
August 1994 42 27 +15 38 41 -3
August 1995 41 26 +15 42 35 +7

"Most trade unions are controlled by extremists and militants"
  All adults TU members
  Agree Disagree Net Agree Disagree Net
  % % % % % ±%
October 1975 64 20 +44 56 37 +19
August 1977 66 21 +45 58 33 +25
September 1978 60 30 +30 57 39 +18
September 1979 67 24 +43 59 35 +24
July 1980 70 20 +50 55 34 +21
November 1981 61 22 +39 55 30 +25
August 1982 65 23 +42 64 30 +34
August 1984 64 24 +40 55 35 +20
November 1985 n/a n/a   43 36 +7
August 1987 n/a n/a   48 35 +13
August 1989 54 26 +28 43 42 +1
August 1990 50 30 +20 43 44 -1
December 1992 34 42 -8 26 56 -30
August 1993 35 40 -5 28 55 -27
August 1994 30 47 -17 19 68 -49
August 1995 31 45 -14 23 61 -38

"Trade unions are essential to protect workers' interests"
  All adults TU members
  Agree Disagree Net Agree Disagree Net
  % % % % % ±%
October 1975 73 15 +58 88 6 +82
August 1977 75 18 +57 85 11 +74
September 1978 78 16 +62 87 11 +76
September 1979 80 16 +64 88 10 +78
July 1980 72 16 +56 90 6 +84
November 1981 73 16 +57 85 6 +81
August 1982 71 21 +50 n/a n/a  
August 1983 77 16 +61 89 8 +81
August 1984 71 18 +59 86 9 +77
February 1985 n/a n/a   91 5 +86
November 1985 n/a n/a   76 12 +64
August 1987 n/a n/a   88 5 +83
March 1989 72 17 +55 81 11 +70
August 1989 77 12 +65 91 7 +84
Dec 1989-Jan 1990 69 21 +48 85 10 +75
August 1990 80 11 +69 90 7 +83
February 1992 81 14 +67 93 6 +87
December 1992 74 12 +62 86 9 +77
August 1993 80 10 +70 92 4 +88
August 1994 82 10 +72 93 6 +87
August 1995 79 10 +69 88 4 +84

Below is another example of a plucky cause, quite right in its right to speak but wrong to take money from obscure bank accounts that could have paid for lawyers in employment trubunals:

  • This site is to expose the scandle of derelict unions which have become claims handling agencies with a little PR and volunteer-co-ordination thrown-in.

    The rest of the money - over ten pounds a month per member - probably finds its way to the Labour Party's central office with a little going to other causes and charities that have found ways of working the system. One such - to be reduced at the end of 2008 - is the T&G's generously funded volunteer branches which in this case have no paid staff, no connection with an employer, no way of electing volunteer committee members except turning-up, no system of accounting to members unless they turn-up, and "a proud tradition of donation to other causes", according to the Region One web site. The paid regional office also donates to the same list of causes and provides a handy list of political causes and charities with names like "solidarity movement", or "trades council" that do not make their accounts public at all or only to members: they do not give receipts. Phone calls and google research reveals that they are more honest than expected, given a system that seems designed for corruption. Wandsworth Trades Council and the causes it funds seem quite popular and some of them such as Bananalink provide real accounts that anyone can read. But the system of "donations on bahalf" by people "elected on a show of hands" to causes that don't give receipts is still considered normal among trades union activists, whether or not they benefit from it.
  • Phrases like - washing dirty laundry in public; money laundering, tax evasion, fraud, - might already be in the mind of a reader: this site did not put them there, but since you ask the first couple of definitions of money laundering that come to hand are about money transfer confused to conceal illegality at one end of the chain from legality at the other. "Donations on behalf", (or just "donations" and "affiliations" with the "on behalf" taken-for-granted) can't be called "Money laundering". I'd like it to be called money laundering but can't find a dictionary to back me up. The destination of the money might found by the Daily Mail to be Lee Jasper's relatives or declared to the electoral commission as South Eastern Labour Party or at least 22 organisations that T&G region one funds or the Communist Party's landlord and the Morning Star overdraft which this branch funds are all legal payments, allowed by elected officials elected by dodgy electoral systems.
  • This page isn't to discourage anyone from doing ridiculous things like joining a campaign, working as a regional manager in an organisation where the job is elected, or marching down the street in protest at something. It is to discourage daft people from taking money that should be used for sacked employees' lawyers, for getting control of company pensions, and for encouraging more workplace democracy over the years. These are the things that might get more support if there were decent voting systems in trades unions. At the moment it's ridiculous. Everything is ridiculous but less than 10% turnout for area manager elections, six people voting themselves into office on a show of six hands, and "Star Turn" donations to the Morning Star overdraft are very ridiculous, as is the 66p per member per year left for employment lawyers according to an interview with the TGWU legal director.

  • I will get back to you if enough people are interested in proper legal insurance for employees. For now, the email handling is handled by Aardvark Mailing List. Like Pledgebank, this list is for people who would like there to be cheap legal insurance but don't set it up because not enough people want it at once to make it viable. If you check out Aardvark, you will see that they remain free bacause they don't give email addresses to list owners; if anyone hijacks your email address it will be them, not employees.org.uk, and they look honest. You can add your name to the list to be told when there are a lot of people on it and cheap legal insurance is possible.


The union branch news, below, takes a few seconds to load as a pdf - please wait a while if you want to have a look and check that what I've written about sponsored banners and payments to the Morning Star is true. Although I didn't say that the branch banner was definately sponsored by a dodgy lawyer called Edwards Duthie - just that they sponsored a very similar one for another branch. The one shown here is entered as a cost in the branch accounts.

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