What's your problem?

How do I advise staff pressured to join the union?

by Jeremy Bullmore

Q:I'm an experienced manager who recently moved from the private to the public sector. The culture took some getting used to, but my current problem seems impossible. I manage a department of 25, some of whom are putting pressure on the new staff to join the union. Several of them have approached me to say they're not interested but are still coming under pressure from the others to join. I find it juvenile and distracting. What would you advise me to do?

A: On the assumption that all members of your staff, including you, are free to join the union and equally free not to, you must clearly uphold and promote this freedom. It should be no part of your role as a manager to persuade or dissuade your staff in either direction.

But I don't like the sound of this 'pressure' to which your new staff are subjected. No overt threats may be being made, but pressure of any kind presumably involves hints and implications. It's not being anti-union to be opposed to even the subtlest forms of coercion.

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