View Full Version : Still relevant today ???

happy daze john in oz
27th July 2012, 06:28 AM
I realise this posting may raise a few eyebrows and may upset a few. Sorry about that but I am posting my comments on the matter, they may however not be those of every member. We all have the right to free speech and freedom of expression.

Today here in Oz Caltex announced it would be closing a major refinery with the loss of about 200 jobs. It will now become a storage facilty for imported refined fuel. The refinery is old and too small to cope with current demand.
Likewise we are loosing jobs in the manufacturing areas such as automotive, and engineer positions in the aircraft industry.
There are many reasons for this, in the automotive there are now equal quality cars coming from Korea, China etc. Modern aircraft engines do not require the same level of maintainance as those of years past.

As a result of the Caltex issue one union has declared it will no longer supply Woolworths with fuel. Here in Oz the Caltex station are all owned by Woolworths.

My question is this, have the union sover time shot themselves in the foot?

Here for years union membership was almost compulsory. I have been a member of not only NSU, but Hospitality Union, when I first arived here it was almost impossible to get a job unless you were a member. Tertiary Education Union for a similar reason.
Over years the unions have fought for improved wages and conditions and I have no problem with any one getting a better deal if they work for it. But now we have a situation where wages are so high many companies are going overseas to get the job done. For every dollar the employee earns the employer has to find a further 30 cents in on costs.
But the union bosses continue to push the members to take action, strike or otherwise to get what they want. The eventual result, the top union man keeps his job and often goes on to become a politician, whilst in the long run the worker sees his position made redundant.
Have we now reached the position where the unions have outlived their usefulness?

As an aside, in 1964 trade union membership was about 85%, by 1980 it was down to 65%. At the last count it now stands at about 17%.

John Arton
27th July 2012, 06:57 AM
Quite possibly you are correct. Never was a great fan of Unions as NUMAST did nothing for us in C.P. when they put us on offshore contracts.
It does seem that Union bosses have become a bit self serving similar to most politicians, yet there are certain cases and industries where the average worker does need the weight of a GOOD union behind them as there are still enough unscrupulous bosses around who would screw you left right and centre if not kept in check, either by legislation or a good union.
As I see it Unions are on balance a good thing but the heads of the Unions need to get real, keep their noses out of the trough and put their members interests first. One thing the dreaded Maggie did was to make the Unions hold ballots before calling for strike action which has certainly led to a reduction in "wild cat" strikes here in the U.K. where strikes were called just because there was no hot water in the panny oven.So for that alone we should be grateful to her., he says ducking the incoming!!!!
Like Politicians in these days, Union bosses need to come into the real world,
my thoughts only and I'm going back under the stairs now.

Captain Kong
27th July 2012, 08:23 AM
I agree John, The NUS, THE MNAOA, now NUMAST and now something else, never did anything when I had a need for them.
I got no legal advice when I had to attend the Inquest and Court of Inquiry over the Pool Fisher sinking. Your on your own , they told me, Shouldnt have got involved, I was told.
I conducted my own case. successfully without them,
I had an overpayment from my shipowners Pension over several years then they hit me with a bill for several thousand Pounds, they wanted the money back, I asked the NUMAST for legal advice, `Nothing to do with us,` they said. I negotiated it my self and had it reduced by 50%.
So the question is, do we need a Union that does nothing but take the subs off us while they enjoy the good life, Union subsidised Houses, Cars , expences, and many other perks at the members expence.?
I think Unions have run their course.

alf corbyn
27th July 2012, 10:05 AM
now brian, you cannot do away with the unions. where else would politicans get thier training.

mr strange. just a quickie. is your woolworths the same as the one that went belly up over in the uk?.

Richard Quartermaine
27th July 2012, 12:01 PM
After three British ships I wondered what it would be like on Aussie ships. it was 1948. I found out that I had to go down to the union office, join the union and then go and sit on a bench until I was called into the Union Secretaries office and then I would be asked to show my union book at which time the stamps were checked and anything due or nearly due would be payed and my book stamped. My first time I was lucky for there was a ship in Brisbane sailing the next day that was short of crew so with the few lads in the union "waiting room" in Sydney we got sent up to Brisbane.

The next time I went to get a ship I was sitting out in waiting room wondering why I was not being selected. I was soon put wise - a pound note in the union book. I only had a ten shilling note so I got about the oldest ship out of Sydney. But she was a great little ship on a good run - Sydney, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, The British/French condominium of The New Hebrides (now Vuanatu) and back the same way.

It wasn't a good start with the union movement. I got back on the British ships the following year where I found hiring to be on the level.

Richard Q

happy daze john in oz
27th July 2012, 12:46 PM
No Alf, our Woolworths you would know as Safeway the supermarket chain.

Les Woodard
27th July 2012, 04:31 PM
Think that union leaders and politicians of all unions and party's have forgotten the basic element of who they where intitially there to serve. I know near the end of my working life I was always in strife with the union because they where not taking directions from the people that where paying their wages. Think I might have become a tad unpopular over it as well. But at least I know I did not end up like a mindless cretin that followed blindly even if we did get screwed in the end. Maybe that is also why they gave me a generous golden handshake in the end. Always liked that bloke in the mirror of a morning thou unlike some who sold out.

Captain Kong
27th July 2012, 05:02 PM
My younger brother was in the Australian Seamans Union in the 60s, he waited for months to get a ship, he was broke, so he found a job on the Wongala, a sailing ship powder boat. After six months he went into the Union Office and they told him he was blacked, and never get another ship again, even tho` he had paid his union dues.
The Wongala was a non union ship.

28th July 2012, 12:46 AM
Ref. John in Oz"s post on Unions. I was a member of the Maritime Union in Australia. You had to be a member to get employment on Australian ships. I have always agreed with the principle of Unions but not always their actions. The unions here were a closed shop. On applying to join the Guild here in Oz. I was told they did not need any more members, I said I was not there for a job but to join the Union. They were literally an agency for supplying the shipowner with crew. I argued the point and after handing over a sizeable amount of money for membership was accepted, and was never out of work for the rest of my working life. The wages and conditions were far in excess of British conditions, however to achieve this I suppose they carried less crew than a British ship of the same type. Some of the actions of the membership would never have been tolerated elsewhere under different flags. However saying that, as a seafarer I was thankful for the conditions that I had after being effed around by some shipowners, including British ones, during my working life. There is a good side and a bad side to Unions, the bad side I would say are the militant membership who you usually find are the leeches on our society. I do not agree with past Union Officials being members of a Government as believe they have no right to make sometimes extreme laws to some of their left wing benefits. Regards John Sabourn

Neil Morton
28th July 2012, 01:20 AM
Apart from the compulsory joining of the British Seaman's Union in 1955 I have never belonged to a union here in Oz and have never been asked. I guess that is because I have mainly worked on a commission only basis which can be construed as self employed.
Back in the late sixties I had a yen to get on the Aussie coast with a mate of mine who was a chief cook at the time. He told me to put a $20 bill in my old discharge book and ex union book and took me to the union HQ at the lower end of Collins St here in Melb. The official did not even open either one he just pushed them back across the counter and said "On yer bike mate we have our own blokes waiting for a berth."
So I scarpered no use flogging a dead horse.:deadhorse:

28th July 2012, 01:21 AM
Agree with you Brian to a certain extent. During a low period in my life when work was hard to come by, I worked in UK ships which did not reconize the Union. On my approaching Numast they said their hands were tied re. conditions etc. I would also state here that I believe some of these vessels should never have been at sea without certain modifications etc. so there was a lack of BOT inspections also. It was either take the job or not. I will state here however I did receive backing when I applied to them for any necessary legal advice re. a court of enquiry. I suppose I was there mainly for such purposes as they also insured your certificate in the case of collission or whatever. Myself and 4 others received the Numast award in 1991 and had a good couple of days in Harrogate at the Trade Union Congress, all expenses paid, so in some ways was reinbursed for some of my cash contributions to them over the years. NUMAST is called something else now I believe and the name slips my mind at the moment. The numast levy was very small compared to the Australian Guild which was paid as a percentage of your income, believe I may be wrong but think it was either 2 or 3 percent of your gross annual salary. Cheers John Sabourn.

Des Taff Jenkins
28th July 2012, 01:37 AM
Hi All.
What Unions? My Dad was the sec of the local Welsh steel workers union in Gorsienon near Swansea, he worked double shifts in the war but if someone knocked on the door at midnight he still got up and attended to whatever was wrong, might have been logging a claim or some such thing. I didn't take much intersest in the British Seamens union other than to know that the leadership was rotten and on the take. I was a delegate in NZ in the seamens union and the carpenters then the same here in Aus, I saw the deteriation and the manipultion of members, I was black banned by my own union here and had dificulty getting a job {had to join the Sydney Waterboard} when I supported elections, as they had been more or less a set up with the same officials standing every year. Now most unions in Aus are run by Labour party apperchecks waiting to go into Parliament. I still believe workers need a strong and honest union to look after their wages and conditions, but I'm afraid that is not going to happen in this world anymore.
Cheers Des

May Dame Fortune always look down on you
But not her daughter Miss Fortune. :rolleyes:

len mazza
28th July 2012, 06:33 AM
Lots of slagging of rotten officals etc. no problem there,but nobody mentions the work put in over the years of the good guys,if anybody thinks that a worker has good deal from the kindness of the boss's heart, he probably belives in the tooth fairy as well.


Louis the Amigo
28th July 2012, 07:45 AM
Hi Shipmates, Have you asked your self this questions? why were the unions formed? what is the purpose of any trade union? and Do you trust any business, Big or small to give a fair rate of pay and safe working condition to its workforce? Big business today as in the past only care about the bottom line/share holders= profit cheap labour only helps this i.e China today plenty more workers if one is killed !!!! very much like years ago at sea and down the mines The unions in the past had probelms with some people who were crooks, much like the banks today. stealing funds e.t.c. but theys allways a few bad apples.

Les Woodard
28th July 2012, 02:06 PM
Very true words Len because there where and are some real hard workers amongst the unions doing a good job but unfortunatly there are those in high profile unions that have been rorting the system. No mention is made of the coal face union delegate that has to sort out problems between the workers and managment. Mind you have come across a few of them that could rearrange the facts of a meeting when reporting back to the work force but that seemed to happen later on in my working life and in general around the 70's to early 80's found most of them looked after their members. Still maintain that politicians where instrumental in weaking the unions because they where getting to strong and where in fact nearly becoming a political party in their own right and establishment did not want another party at the national trough. Just think of it this way? years ago a blue collar worker was able to become elected to parliment and many did. How many from grass roots non academic workers can you name as politicians now. They all seem to be either uni educated, ex teachers or high standing people and look at the sh8t these so called educated idiots have got us all into. What was the saying they use? Pay us peanuts and you get monkeys. Well we are paying larger peanuts now and getting larger monkeys.

Colin Hawken
28th July 2012, 08:02 PM
No Alf, our Woolworths you would know as Safeway the supermarket chain.

Safeway doesn't exist in the UK anymore.Not in my part of it at least.

28th July 2012, 08:37 PM
Safeway in the UK was purchased by Morrisons , Summerfields was purchased by teh Co-op . Asda purchased by Wal-Mart , I like Aldi and Lidl

Capt Bill Davies
28th July 2012, 08:48 PM
Bibby Line

John Callon
28th July 2012, 10:42 PM
Yes all 1300 plus stores in the UK.

John Callon
28th July 2012, 10:58 PM
I have to admit I have never been a big fan of the unions. However in some cases they have been necessary to protect the workers. That can not be said about the NUS or MNAO. Total arseholes the lot of them. When I was promoted from 2nd Steward to Purser/Chief Steward, holding a lifeboat certificate and a fire fighting course certificate along with a ships cook certificate of competancy, my first voyage in that rank was a Blue Star Line charter to New Zealand. During our stay in Auckland we received a visit from the local rep who professed to be from the MNAO. Have to be honest I did not think these people had spread their wings that far.
Anyway he came to my office, asked me how the voyage was from Europe etc etc and then informed me that the MNAO now accepted my job as that of an officer. My reply was "and your problem is do I accept your association, the gangway is on the port side".


Les Woodard
28th July 2012, 11:13 PM
Found that years ago if there was to be a strike over conditions or safety that it was the members involved who would conduct a down tools meeting and try to thrash the issue out with the relevent person in charge. Most times these disputes where resolved real quick and everyone was happy. If it could not be resolved then a snap strike would happen before the union itself got involved to come to some sort of agreement. This resulted in quite a few stop work meetings or short strikes because it was handled by the workers involved and union participation was sort for legal clarification if needed. They also where answerable to us to try for higher wages and can not ever think of a time that we where out on strike for that in the union that I was in. Now if the workers want to strike they have to get the union involved from the start and have it sanctioned which in turn makes the whole situation a shambles of outright war between managment and union officials with the worker not getting a look in any more. It is that type of union that I defend not the beurocratic ones of today that. No we had it right years ago if there was a problem we sorted it out then and there. Now it goes to court and becomes national news with so many wanna be big noters trying to make a name for themselves to the extent that have forgotten that the bloke on the end of that broom is his boss. So yes have a go at those idiots but remember that it was from the sweat of workers that the union movement started not some bloody uni kid.

happy daze john in oz
29th July 2012, 06:44 AM
Les you have afair point there about the beginings of the unions. In my opinion the best thing that has happened of late is now secret ballot befoe strike action is taken. It at least allows the membership to speak it's mind without fear of retribution.

Capt Bill Davies
29th July 2012, 07:50 AM
In my time at sea 02/55 - 04/05 they were totally irrelevant and caused me unbelievable aggravation.


alf corbyn
29th July 2012, 11:03 AM
thanks for your reply mr strange. although i beleive that safeways is very big in the US. in england they sold out to morrisons. morrisons took over the then co-op supermarkets which i believe were originally called elephant or something like. then theco-op took over somerfield who at one time took over kwiksave after a trial partnership resulting in kwiksave going bottom up. asda is now owned by walmart and aldi and lidl's are german, a cheaper type of supermarket, as is netto's a swedish one. tesco and sainsburys are the biggest.

Tony Wilding
29th July 2012, 02:55 PM
Hi Alf, i think ASDA recently bought Netto, the Netto in Ramsgate was pulled down and rebuilt as ASDA.

Dennis McGuckin
29th July 2012, 03:49 PM
Worked 28 years as bakery manager for Safeway. Yes they are a US company.
It was a great place to work with good wages and lots of benefits. Sadly it has changed for the worst. I retired 20 years ago [disability] so had the best of it.

Les Woodard
29th July 2012, 11:55 PM
In my time at sea 02/55 - 04/05 they were totally irrelevant and caused me unbelievable aggravation.


Daresay that there are a lot of foremen that would agree with that. Not everyone could get it right and do the right thing by the workers could they.

happy daze john in oz
30th July 2012, 06:27 AM
thanks for your reply mr strange. although i beleive that safeways is very big in the US. in england they sold out to morrisons. morrisons took over the then co-op supermarkets which i believe were originally called elephant or something like. then theco-op took over somerfield who at one time took over kwiksave after a trial partnership resulting in kwiksave going bottom up. asda is now owned by walmart and aldi and lidl's are german, a cheaper type of supermarket, as is netto's a swedish one. tesco and sainsburys are the biggest.

In the 1960's a guy by the name of Bill Pratt opened a small chain of supermarkets here in Victoria. He was bought out by Safeways the US company. I worked for them for a short while in the early 80's. At that time all senior management were sent to Us for six weeks training. There was at that time a superamrket company in NSW called Woolworths. In the 90's Safeway US sold the franchise to Woolworths. As store required refurbishing or new ones built the name was changed from Safeway to Woolworths. They now own about 70% of all pubs and hotels in Oz along with about 65% of all bottle shops. They also Own the Caltex service stations along with a number of other businesses. they are now working with Masters, UK eqivqlent of B&Q, to open a chain here.