Sunday, 6 September 2009

‘Merge all unions into one large union’

Unions affiliated to the Danish LO should all merge into one large democratic union that is rooted in local communities, argues Poul Erik Skov Christensen (General Secretary of the LO-affiliated Union Federation of Danish Workers, 3F) in an article in newspaper Politiken, published in English by New Unionism.
Today, workers not only change jobs more often than in the past; they are also more likely to change sectors. The current union structure with unions covering specific sectors is inflexible and ill adapted to the modern labour market, Christensen argues. As a result, unions spend a lot of energy on transferring workers and still they lose thousands of members per year as a result of job changes.
The matter is especially relevant when it regards organising young workers, who may work a few years in a bar or supermarket before embarking on their ‘real’ career.
Christensen expects that a single union will be able to operate more efficiently and will be more capable of organising young people and dealing with ‘yellow’ unions. The new LO should not be a large bureaucratic colossus, but one that is sufficiently flexibly to allow different union identities and one that is rooted in local communities, with union offices in every municipality.
Christensen argues against the alternative option of creating one public sector union and one private sector union. Not only would such a solution fail to take the blurring boundaries between the public and private sectors into account (he cites outsourcing and buying back of ambulance services as an example); it would also be dangerous to break the alliance between private and public sector workers.

No comments: