During the last two years both myself and another Unite Rep have been attempting to get the unions at Corus to engage with members on a regular basis.
We have achieved limited success but enough to encourage us to continue with what at times has felt like a Sisyphean task. A number of Unite reps are now beginning to realise that the members are the important people and not those that attend the endless list of committees that seem to take up a large part of a TU rep’s time.
So you take a week off and all hell breaks loose!
A multi-union branch meeting took place at Scunthorpe Plate Mill where members of Community and Unite voted to seek support from National Officers and pressure the company to reinstate two employees who were sacked for breaches of safety regulations.
The two people dismissed have fallen foul of the company’s zero tolerance attitude towards breaches of safety and cardinal rules.
The reps at Plate Mill are accusing the company of double standards and inconsistency when dealing with disciplinary issues.
Now I don’t know all the details so I cannot comment on any individual case but this declaration of support for their brothers by the workers at Plate Mill is a step forward with regards organising members and making unions in the Steel Industry stronger.
So what now?
The unions at Corus Scunthorpe need to move away from the top down approach that has existed for years and organise in a way that gives members a significant input into events at their workplace.
This will take time to achieve but we must now kick on and build upon this welcome involvement of the shopfloor.
Community, Unite and GMB need to recognise that having us all split up into separate departments throughout the site minimises the effect we have in dealing with issues and prevents a cohesive policy being formed.
Reps from all three unions need to meet on a regular basis and for Unite it is imperative that a Workplace Branch is formed and soon as possible.
This would give members the opportunity to voice their opinions and bring them into the decision making process.
You never know we may even get to the stage where we ask members what they want in their pay claim!