In the last two weeks I have dealt with many employment cases as an active trade unionist. One was a dismissal hearing in front of a panel of councillors. Another was a probation review of a new worker. There was an investigation into an employee who had been underpaid by £7,000; a job assimilation which had been reneged upon; a tribunal prep for a discrimination matter and a complaint about the quality of advice from some shop stewards.
This is my voluntary pursuit, working for trade union members needing support, advice and reassurance on a daily basis.
So that is why last month I was bothered by the allegedly moderate TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, speaking in our name about walk outs, strikes and manning the barricades to take on "ConDem cuts". This is despite the fact the unions still have deficiencies in member training and the quality of advice they give to employees in genuine workplace grievances.
I am under no illusion that my view of apolitical modern trade unionism is not one shared by the majority of paid union representatives, but it is one shared by a significant tranche of members. It was telling last week at work when a poster on the Unite board declaring "Tory Cuts – RIP" and depicting David Cameron as a monster dripping with blood dancing on public services was defaced with the comment "Cameron: Getting us out of the brown stuff AGAIN". Union leaders continue to misjudge the mood of their members.