Saturday 4 June 2011

What do Alan Duncan and union bosses have in common?

During my time in Vietnam two British delegations have been in town. Imagine my surprise to Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan on the front page (and lead story) of the national English language daily paper 'Viet Nam News'. Over my morning Pho, after I'd admired the large colour picture of Duncan meeting Vietnam PM Nguyen Tan Dung, I read how Duncan was in Hanoi to sign an agreement to speed up co-operation between Vietnam and the UK and increase aid.

From my time working with Duncan I know he isn't too much of a fan of the unions. So I doubt he would have enjoyed the report two days earlier in the same paper about a delegation by 'UK labour unionists' in Hanoi to discuss 'how to improve union capacity in labour negotiations'. Three union bosses mentioned as having met the top echelons of the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour were from the RMT, UCATT and bizarrely the Musicians' Union. All are apparently important figures in the Trade Union Friends of Viet Nam.

The next time London Tube drivers go on strike, demanding higher pay, at least we will all know the proportion of their salary given to union membership goes to such a worthwhile cause.

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