I enjoyed reading the excellent article by Gregor Gall (Perspective, 18 November), in which he examines the history of leverage tactics used by unions, and the new strategy adopted by Unite.
His analysis of the reasons which lie behind this strategy is a clear-sighted, unbiased piece of writing, which highlights the problems facing a union which can have no direct contact with the consumers of its products and, therefore, no means of influencing their decision-making in the pursuit of its cause.
He also gives us a timely reminder of the laws curtailing the measures which unions could legally take to draw attention to their grievances, which successive governments introduced in the 1980s and 1990s.
His article provides a pertinent background to two letters which appeared in The Scotsman on the same day regarding the Grangemouth dispute.
I have to confess to being confused by Bob Taylor’s response: he appears to be saying that it’s acceptable for companies to operate a blacklisting policy in a covert manner, by adopting “a host of informal methods” as opposed to “drawing up a written list of people it does not wish to employ”, in other words, leaving no evidence, and that this would somehow be preferable to the more overt, “visible”, method adopted by Unite when it took its grievances to the homes of Ineos managers.
Intimidation takes various forms, and being threatened with the loss of your job by an employer who refuses to enter arbitration talks is just one example.
The other correspondent, Mary Lockhart, gave an insightful, concise summing up of the disparity in power between a global behemoth whose billionaire chairman has lamented the “outrageous” cost of pensions, and a workforce who, despite its critics, has few real leverage methods at its disposal in these challenging times.