this from the socialist, so not strictly unbiased, but quite well written. it does ramble on a bit and could do with a bit of editing, but readers of the socialist have plenty of time on their hands :)
Electricians are currently fighting a 35% pay cut and the deskilling of their trade, being imposed by seven companies using the new "Besna" contracts.
There have been huge walkouts to defend current terms and conditions under the "Joint Industry Board" (JIB).
However, the JIB itself has been opposed for years by rank and file trade unionists in the electrical industry.
Rather than a collective-bargaining structure where unions can negotiate with employers, instead it has always been a "social partnership" agreement between the electrical union tops and the employers, to the detriment of ordinary electricians.
After the right wing seized control of the electricians' union (EETPU), it wanted to consolidate that control, and so under a legally-binding agreement in 1968 a unique partnership was forged between employer and union and introduced to British industry.
It was the Joint Industry Board (JIB) and consisted of the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA employers) and the Electrical Electronic Telecommunications and Plumbing Union.
The two parties were the only two permanent members, under Rule 6 of the JIB's constitution. Its national board consisted of members appointed by the ECA and EETPU and this was the principal executive committee (Rule 23). dont you just love it when they quote rules... :)
This JIB was imported into the British Electrical Contracting Industry after a delegation visited New York to meet with the JIB there which had been in existence for more than 20 years.
New York model (thought this was going to have some sexy stuff in it, but sorry, NO!)This New York model was effectively a sweetheart deal between the JIB partners, the ECA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3.
In return for the union disciplining its members, improving productivity and eliminating strikes, the employers delivered an agreed package of pay, welfare benefits and training.
Eric Hammond, then an executive member of the EETPU, who had been part of that delegation to America described it, as his "first revolution" in how trade unions operate.
The JIB replaced the old National Joint Industrial Council, in which the NJIC hammered out agreements between two opposing sides in the industry.
Instead of normal collective bargaining of trade union and employer on different sides, they would now work in partnership.
Right from the outset, the two parties to the JIB formed a trade union, namely the JIBTU, even though the legality of such registration was always in doubt.
Even the chief registrar noted in his 1967 annual report that it was an unusual type of union as it included representatives of both employers and employees.
It was challenged in June 1991 by electrician Frank Graham and John McAllion MP (for Dundee East). Addressing parliament, John McAllion stated:
"When Frank Graham and I challenged it about its registration, it claimed initially to have received special dispensation to register in 1968 from the then Minister for Labour, Mr.
"Ray Gunter. The JIB made that claim in letters to the certification officer and to the Chairman of the Employment Sub-Committee, but the claim is bogus.
"The then Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, told me in a letter in 1996 that he could find no reference to such dispensation in the Department's records.
He added that he could find no statutory basis - past or present - under which anyone in any Government could have given such a dispensation." (Hansard, 26 Oct 1999).
"No statutory basis"
Yet the dispensation claimed by the JIB allowed for a provident fund to be established to provide benefits to members.
The JIB gained considerable material benefits from being registered as a trade union, such as tax exemptions.
In reality the JIB had received tax allowances to which it was not legally entitled. Following the 1991 challenge, the JIB asked to be deregistered as it followed the JIB was not and never had been a trade union.
Yet the relationship between the two parties grew ever stronger and the detriment to members ever greater and in 1979 another unique dispensation was granted by the Tory Secretary for State Patrick Mayhew.
This gave exemption to the JIB by allowing it to substitute its own dismissal procedure for unfair dismissals, it is the only such exemption order granted in any industry.
It effectively denied access to independent arbitration for the electrical personnel. John McAllion explained to parliament that:
"... although on paper the JIB dismissals procedure allows for access to independent arbitration, in reality that access is blocked.
"The JIB's procedure, as set out in its handbook, makes it clear that any appellant must give good reason to the JIB national board to justify reference to independent arbitration.
"Clearly, if the JIB national board does not accept those reasons, there will be no reference to independent arbitration for that appellant."
there, did you survive that history lesson, dont worry, shorter tomorrow