Why are there no trade unions in service industry?

Waking up to a bad dream about work-life (though in the past tense now), I wondered (aloud to my husband) – why are there no unions in service industry?. Some possible answers, and my views:-

1. Meritocracy. People in services prefer to “advance upwards” on their own/ based on “meritocracy”. So the old world trade unions – that are essentially formed for wage-negotiation are not really required. Infact standardisation of wages/ promotions might limit “meritocracy”. I have my serious doubts here though. I am beginning to think that the more “degree educated” people become, the more they look out for themselves first, and ambition rules over co-operative, but slow-track growth.

2. Trade unions need not exist ONLY for salary negotiation. Respect at work, respect for personal space are also getting seriously affected. This could be because work descriptions are getting more and more complex, and are not amenable to clear lines of demarcation. Though respect for personal space is to a great extent driven by individual assertiveness, it is also driven to a large extent by organisation culture and practices.

3. Compared to old world trade unions, there is really no distinction between the “capital” and “working” classes. People who get managed, ultimately become managers in services. So if they do demand changes in work culture and systems, they also need to implement them once they become managers. Maintaining status quo actually helps because one can dispense such gyan later – “we also had our dog years – be happy its not worse”. (Not that there is any shortage of hypocrites in work life as such, but still).

4. 360 degree review can serve to be a compromise system to plug some major work culture issues in services industry. If implemented in spirit that is. No, heirarchies can never be equalised, but aristocratic attitudes can be contained atleast.


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