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Salient.Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 32, No. 17 July 23, 1969

Workers get least benefit

Workers get least benefit

"With the growth of industry many of the potential leaders of the workers are being recruited from the managerial side," said Mr N. A. Collins, a trade unionist speaking in the Winter Term Lecture series.

"This is a good thing; I hope it's infiltration," he said.

It is also a good thing, said Mr Collins, that more children of workers have access to universities and greater oportunities even though they could otherwise have been future trade union leaders.

"But consequently, this largest group in the community, the workers in trade unions, tend to receive the least benefit from changes in society insofar as leadership is concerned.

"This makes adult education all the more necessary."

"So too does the fact that employers, more and more, are equipping industry with university-trained managerial personnel and with continuing courses to keep them up to date.

"The trade union leader must compete and hold his own at this level."

Because of the complexity of society, and Government participation and control increasing, the trade union leader finds himself increasingly involved in policy matters at "both Government and industry level, and … needs new understandings and insights into subjects which were not previously within his field," said Mr Collins.

The trade union leader needs a greater knowledge of economics, technology, the application of science in industry, and of sociology, industrial negotiation and relations, and the impact of world affairs, he said.

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The trade union leader "can no longer be concerned only with the wage rate and the local dispute because the role and responsibilities of trade unionists are changing."

"So I see three levels of trade union education which educators are and will have to increasingly play a part.

"And when I say 'have to', I mean that we, the trade unions, need you, because you have a role to play."

Mr Collins said that because of the pressure of union commitments "top level" trade unionists were often unable to pursue long continuing courses.

"I tried it at the University and couldn't keep it up because of the pressures of my job," he said.

"Short live-in courses where a full-time officer can get away from his job and give full-time study for a period."

This was being planned and under way.

Of the rank and file members, scattered throughout the country, Mr Collins said that it would seem that they are better served by the WEA Trade Union Postal Education Committee's correspondence courses," but we will have to use educators and we will need to use them far more in this role.

"This university and university men are playing a major role innovating and furthering this work with the University Extension Department in the lead."

"Already we have had substantial assistance in the courses of training and seminars which have been promoted as a joint effort, and which are leaving their mark in union circles, helping in the very necessary job of fitting union people to talk with equal understanding on social and economic subjects," he said.

Peter Newall, the noted Australian commentator, who spoke at a series of lectures organised by the Evangelical Union.

Peter Newall, the noted Australian commentator, who spoke at a series of lectures organised by the Evangelical Union.