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.
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