EDITORIAL: Public image is T&G's big challenge

Received wisdom says ten per cent of the reputation of trade unions is to do with how effectively they campaign, and 90 per cent is to do with how often they disrupt people's lives with strike action. Typically, therefore, they are very popular internally, and deeply unpopular in the outside world.

In reality, of course, there is plenty that unions can do short of the ultimate sanction - withdrawing their members' labour - that can change public perception of them. One only has to look at Amicus-AEEU's PR work around the time of the GlaxoSmithKline shareholder revolt to see that.

The challenge then, for newly appointed T&G campaigns and comms director Andrew Murray is to help general-secretary Tony Woodley win support in the outside world, as well as internally.

As Woodley has been described as a member of the 'awkward squad', this is some task. But if the T&G boss is to avoid the public opinion fate of fellow hate-figures such as the RMT and the Fire Brigades Union leaders, that must be the focus of Murray's work.

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