It is accepted that partnership working may entail a change to deeply held beliefs. Clearly, a union must accept a need for flexible working, jettisoning demarcations and restrictive practices and understand that it is not acceptable to merely say “no”.  This makes the job of a union representative more demanding because they have to think about potential business impacts when requesting the maintenance or improvement to existing terms and conditions. It also requires an acceptance of the management’s right to manage and make the final decision.

This does not mean that a union representative has to agree with everything that is placed in front of him or her. The difference is that any objection should be supported by something more than ideology. If a challenge is made to a business decision, it should be made in such a way as to facilitate a meaningful discussion. Once a decision is made, however, the representative must have a clear understanding of why as it is vital that this is explained to the membership and the staff.