Time to update old-fashioned views on unions

1st October 2010 at 01:00

Your editorial (September 24) takes an old-fashioned and partial view of trade unions and confuses radicals and militants. You don't have to be militant to be radical and can be radical without being militant.

Modern trade unionism is not all about the Trades Union Congress (TUC), affiliation to Labour, left vs right, "ideology" and agitation. My own union - Voice - is independent from the TUC and from affiliation to any political party. It believes in the force of argument not the argument of force. Industrial action not only damages children's education and inconveniences parents, but undermines the professionalism of teachers and support staff.

Like the Coalition, the separate unions must work together to resist attempts by politicians and the media to turn the public sector into the public enemy. Those who wish to undermine the value of the sector and those who work in it were handed a propaganda victory by Office for National Statistics research and the spin put on it by politically motivated headlines such as "Myth of the underpaid public sector worker". (The Daily Telegraph, September 14).

There are those who wish to soften up members of the general public, who use but don't work for the public sector, to accept the forthcoming cuts by vilifying public servants. This is a crude attempt to divide and rule through "them and us" politics. Your editorial and front-page picture of old-fashioned militancy play into their hands.

The "Gove revolution" you have been reporting on is hardly "radical". Slash and burn is not "reform" - demolition is easier than construction. Academies are not new and few in number. It's not so much Che Gove-ara inspiring revolution as Citizen Smith pointlessly crying "power to the people!" who aren't interested.

Philip Parkin, General Secretary, Voice, Derby.

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