Negotiation without the option of a ‘threat’ is called begging

A quick look at scab union 'Voice' and their use of the term 'negotiation'.

Submitted by working class … on November 16, 2011

The issues around the scab union ‘voice’ have been well covered already, so I will not labour the point too much. I have read the twitter responses and the blog post from the toadying, bosses boot polishing lickspittle at ‘Voice’ with interest. For a group who are committed to negotiating, they are not prepared to give an inch on the issue of scabbing.

They have asked on several occasions for examples of employers that have given in to strikes. Really, do I actually need to dig them out and list them? Are you actually that far removed from the labour movement that you don’t think they exist? Have they ever considered that when a victory is achieved through negotiation in reality it actually is not? An employer may capitulate during a negotiation, is it because of a skilled union negotiator, or is it because if they do not back down they know that a strike will be inevitable?

When a negotiation takes place, both parties must have something to offer, and something that they can take away. If workers do not have the option of withdrawing their labour then it is not a negotiation it is begging exercise, because they are left with nothing to bargain with.

If a trade union opens their negotiation with the statement, “whatever happens and whatever you do, we will do nothing in response”, do you really think you will win? The bosses must be pissing themselves laughing!

You talk of your victories Achieved through negotiation. Fine, I am sure you have, but the victories have not been achieved through negotiation, they have been achieved because the bosses wanted you to win, or they really did not see it as a priority.

What really sticks in my throat about Voice and the creatures that run it is that their members have pay settlements, pensions, sick pay, holiday pay, days off, facility time, 37 hour weeks, and have access to all the provisions of the welfare state. These victories for working people were not achieved by partnership agreements, or by middle class bureaucrats from boss’s staff associations, or in board rooms. No, they were won in battles, on the picket lines, in the streets. Voice will criticise those that strike, yet will ride the coat tails of the strikers and reap the benefits.

Although not a strike situation, what did negotiating with Thatcher do for the poll tax movement? What did an organised working class who were committed to direct action achieve?

You ask for others to respect your position? No, I cannot respect any worker who spends his or her life on all fours waiting for the bosses to flick some more crumbs their way. You are an absolute disgrace.

Voice will have you believe that we have shared interests with our bosses, hence why they think negotiation is paramount. I will answer this with a quote from Alexander Berkman: The masters have found a very effective way to paralyse the strength of organised labour. They have persuaded the workers that they have the same interests as the employers . . . and what is good for the employer is also good for his employees . . . If your interests are the same as those of your boss, then why should you fight him? That is what they tell you . . . It is good for the industrial magnates to have their workers believe [this] . . . [as they] will not think of fighting their masters for better conditions, but they will be patient and wait till the employer can 'share his prosperity' with them . . . If you listen to your exploiters and their mouthpieces you will be 'good' and consider only the interests of your masters . . . but no one cares about your interests . . . 'Don't be selfish,' they admonish you, while the boss is getting rich by your being good and unselfish. And they laugh in their sleeves and thank the Lord that you are such an idiot. But . . . the interests of capital and labour are not the same. No greater lie was ever invented than the so-called 'identity of interests' . . . It is clear that . . . they are entirely opposite, in fact antagonistic to each other."