James O'Brien explains to caller what work conditions would be like without ...
LBC

A caller on James O'Brien's LBC show tried to make the argument against trade unions and was promptly schooled by the radio host on what work conditions would be like without them.

Adam from Heathrow called in where he claimed "we don't need" trade unions in the UK as people should have "individual representation" in the workplace.

The discussion comes at a time of travel disruption as a result of the biggest rail strike in 30 years that currently taking place by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in a dispute over pay, conditions and job cuts.

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Though host James was quick to challenge the caller on his opinion, as he asked: "Employer says we're abolishing weekends, who represents the worker then?"

While caller Adam argued that "no one's doing that," James explained: "I hate to break it to you but until the trade unions existed, two-day weekends were unheard of."

He asked the caller about other potential scenarios under individual responsible where employees could be told to work 14-hour days or 16 hours if the boss doesn't like a particular person.

"But you've got the right of individual representation so the fella working 16 hours, he can't bring anyone else with him and nobody else should be able to take industrial action to support him," James said.

To which Adam said how there will be "some people who want to work 16 hours."

"Retirement ages?...Maternity leave?...Health and safety in the workplace?" James countered.

"How many employers in the workplace look around and think 'Gosh, how can we spend more money looking after our workforce', as opposed to waiting for trade union-led legislation to be brought in that prevents them from being electrocuted or injured at work?"

Adam acknowledged that James was making "good points" as the host then asked him about paid holidays.

"Who's gonna get that for the bloke who's only allowed to represent himself?"

According to the caller, workers could just "negotiate that yourself" which O'Brien highlighted would probably result in one worker getting paid holiday while the other doesn't.

Equality laws were also mentioned that help to prevent employees from getting sacked for being pregnant, sick or being too ill to "represent yourself individually" as O'Brien asked how these laws would be enacted if there was individual representation.

In response, Adam said this is the reason "why you have an employment contract," and the radio host then informed him that employees do not have a contract "unless the trade union has won you one."

"Do you know where you'd be happy? 1852," O'Brien summed up the discussion.

The rail strikes are taking place on June 23 and 25 June and are expected to cause knock-on travel disruption in the days following the industrial action.

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