A Belgian Eye – Episode 129

Our resident Belgian, Philippe Persoons, takes a look at life through A Belgian Eye.

Oh, you don’t get me, I’m part of the union, till the day I day. Philippe is now a “union” man and he explains his journey . . . . . .

Hello and welcome on a Belgian Eye

Oh, you don’t get me, I’m part of the union
You don’t get me, I’m part of the union
You don’t get me, I’m part of the union
Until the day I die, until the day I die.

These are not my words, it’s poetry written by Richard Hudson and John Ford. It’s the chorus of the song ‘Part of the Union’ A hit in 1973 from the Strawbs. The song went through my mind when I decided half year ago to run for union representative at our company.

Contrary to the song we are not really a factory, and it doesn’t ‘stink’. We work in an office and our ‘labour’ is offering services: information, education, communication, press and more. I must say that all our union people are not the ‘striking’ types. Not like in the song, social relations at our company are quite calm and peace full. Still I ran for delegate and I got elected.

The thing that brought me to this, was a discussion with the top management about a defibrillator. The machine to restart your heart when it stops. I received publicity on this telling that we could have one for 30 euro a month. With such a price I didn’t saw a reason why we shouldn’t have it. But the top management rejected the idea. Impossible to find, but they did manage to find excuses. I promised to myself to continue to fight for it, for a defibrillator in our company and so I became the Union man.

You might think it’s strange but I did discuss it with my colleagues and also with my general manager before I took that step. Simply because I wanted to keep our nice relationship. I remember my boss telling how she hated the unions, but that she believed in me and that I had her support.

Last week I had to think about her. She was one of the six general managers at the company and last week the CEO announced a restructuring. Six divisions were brought back to four. Two of six general managers would no longer be general manager. One of those two is about fifty years old and has
already left the company, the other was she. She’s about sixty, she was always dutifully employed, probably at the top of her career and now suddenly she falls into the gap. Worst of all, she had to learn the news during the week she was on holiday.

I remember how fierce she could be in her role, yes she did represent the management, she was the boss. She was quite alright as manager but, as all bosses, she wasn’t a fan of the union. When I passed by her office I thought about her and that she might need our help right now. I did already send her a mail for some moral support and I also did mention that we could try to do something. Today I heard that an arrangement was settled. She’ll end her career in some chill part-time job. I hope she’s happy with it.

My moral is that boss or no boss, we all are somehow ‘employed’ and we all can sometimes be in need of a defender. You don’t always have to cheer for the unions, but keep in mind that they can be needed from time to time.

And now, back to work, and have a nice day.