What should be unions’ response to crisis faced by organisations?
Alter union at Air France has asked its pilot members to refuse to fly Airbus SAS A330s and A340s until the airline replaces speed sensors. That is because investigators said that the equipment probably played a role in a June 1 plane crash. This union represents 12% members and there is another union SNPL-ALPA that has 50% membership among pilots has not made any statement as yet.
Very often unions in minority, like Alter union, see an opportunity in such events to score a point over the majority membership union. Unfortunately a crisis brings out so much anger within the organization that such tactics often work.
The basic issue is whether the unions are committed to long term prosperity of the organizations.
Unions have often not taken clear stances on this issue and based their decisions on it. Perhaps making an open stance may not suit them and will invite severe criticism from all. That is what they may be afraid of.
If the unions view long term prosperity of the organization as an important objective to support then the reactions will have to be one of solidarity, rallying around to quickly overcome the negative forces. It is during this period that the unions have to bury their differences and come together.
We have often seen public servants going on strike when it hits the common man most. These actions may be deplorable, but very often the communication within the organisation is so weak that employees see no choice but to use moments when organizations are vulnerable to press their demands. What it means is that if we want the unions to commit themselves to long term prosperity of an organisation then there is a duty on managements to engage in very effective communication with them.
Managers think that unions are irresponsible in their response; and unions think that managements lack sensitivity to the problems of employees. Both think that they act out of situation and others act out of disposition, so very often nobody takes the first step, right?