LETTER: Dealings with world’s unions

Keyboard SUS-160615-124004001
Keyboard SUS-160615-124004001

During my working life I had dealings with unions in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

I would say that, of them all, the UK unions were more interested in obtaining ‘clout’ than the welfare of those they claimed to represent, with Hong Kong coming a close second, and they definitely had a political objective. One of the UK unions was a forerunner of the RMT.

One of the more interesting, and at times amusing, was the negotiation in Papua New Guinea, the union spokesman was an up-and-coming politician, college educated and a qualified pathologist I believe. In the background were Australian union people demanding conditions similar to theirs while I had PNG goverment people on my back insisting that any such agreement would have serious effect on the emerging country’s economy.

After a week we had made very little progress and adjourned for the weekend but on the following Monday we rapidly reached a satisfactory conclusion and retired to the pub to seal the agreement.

Over a glass of ‘amber nectar’ I learned a bit more about the PNG union man, including the fact that his family were, not long ago, cannibals.

I said that if he had told me this earlier we might have reached agreement sooner. This gentleman reached high office in the PNG government and was knighted.

M. BurbIdge

Wealden Way


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