Business Ethics: Role of Unions

Topics: Trade union, Strike action, Industrial unionism Pages: 6 (1883 words) Published: September 29, 2010

What role do Unions play in business and is that role both useful and important?


A market is a way of cordoning and organising economic agents’ activity. The market permits a certain balance between demands and needs. Liberal economists consider the market as being the “best way of economical coordination if both clients and companies (Business) are hugely present.” The different actors one could meet in the market are, of course, clients and business; but also some defence organisms of those two first: Unions. In facts, it is important to consider them when studying the market place. It appears as logical that protection organisms exist but their actions may sometimes be doubtful. We will deal in this essay with the role that Unions play in business and will see if their role is both useful and important.

To understand the existing link between business and unions, it is suitable to study the subject in two parts: a first one explaining the role both businesses and unions may have in the market, and a second one wondering if the actions of unions really fit their goals.

I)Business and Unions, both principal actors of markets.

A - Business, goals and risks

In economics, a business is recognized as being an organisation which is shaped to provide goods and/or services to customers and whose goal is making money, and, through this, creating profits and increasing its owners’ wealth. Through making money, the supposed role of a business is creating value to reinvest in the market thanks to the salary they give to employees; the workers will then pay back in consumption (food, services, New Technologies of Information and Communication, leisure or holidays) and thus, assuring the well balance of the marketplace.

A company owner’s goal may be wider than creating cash; it could also correspond to the fifth level of Maslow pyramid: self actualisation. Having our proper company may makes us feel important for the market functioning and gives us the feeling we succeeded in building something. Thus, the boss will act honestly in order to make things go well and employee feel at ease so that they can work the same way sport teams go (all together in the same way, hands in hands)

Although the traditional image we have of a business’ owner as being a “plump guy, smoking big cigars and making money on his employees’’ back is passed; from the moment on we talk about money, no one could be blindly trusted and it becomes legitimate asking questions. In fact, the recent example we had with the French bank “Société Générale” hiding and stealing 5 billions € is another example of the (extreme) abuses that could be done.

Financial risks and bad repartition of incomes are not the only dangers, others dark sides of a business exist: moral abuses.

In order to face the risks the vicious circle of profits’ seeking a business may imply, organisations have been built, organisations whose goal is to prevent and protect the different actors that play a role in the market, employees such as company’s owners: Unions.

Union’s action may also serve consumers (if the service or good provided by suppliers does not correspond to what is promised, and so expected) or bosses: abuses exist in both ways; it is to say employees enjoying the system not to supply the efforts they are paid to (the French example of the SNCF enjoying ,until few months ago, of advantages such as working less time than in the private sector or having a financial help to wash their clothes - dating from the time machinists had to clean their dresses because they were working with coal – and allowing themselves going on strike to protect those advantages that were logical decades ago but which are no more, is the example that some company need help to protect themselves).

B – Unions, a way of reaching goals and facing risks.

“Together, we are stronger!”
For this, a union aims at grouping people in order to give them...
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