Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Doesn’t he work for a trade union?

with 3 comments

According to a survey on the state of technological knowledge amongst ordinary people, 10% of people on the streets of London believe Steve Jobs, chief executive and co-founder of Apple, to be a trade union leader. Other leading figures in the industry, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the internet, also fared poorly (9% thought he worked for MI5, which would appear to reflect the pervasive influence of James Bond films: Bernard Lee was M (albeit of MI6) in all Bond films up to Moonraker), while the apparently inexorable rise of social media sites still meant that 11% of respondents couldn’t name a single one without prompting. Do check out the YouTube video on the survey link, by the way – especially the very last interviewee, in front of Westminster Cathedral: a ‘guess the title of his daily newspaper’ competition will follow…

Well, (a) it’s nice that trade unions still feature strongly enough in public life to make it on to these sorts of questionnaire; and (b) that people do still remember enough about trade unions for us to feature somewhere on their horizons. (Obviously, aside of the issue of entirely random answers that questionnaires sometimes generate.)

Perhaps it’s the name ‘Steve’ – a good, solid name befitting a trade unionist – which resulted in the mis-identification of Steve Jobs. Indeed, in Prospect there are quite a few ‘Steves’ amongst the union’s cadre of negotiations officers. I’m not sure that Apple is yet unionised so as to make Steve Jobs a credible choice for union leader, however – though the company does seem to have been involved in labour rights violations in the past…


Written by Calvin

15/01/2010 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Labour movement stuff

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3 Responses

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  1. Calvin

    Well there you go but in my experience it was Alfred, Alex, Dai or Kevin depending on which of the nations we were talking about. Sadly, not many Adrians.

    Adrian Askew

    15/01/2010 at 5:16 pm

  2. Hi Calvin,

    Very interesting survey outcome, not least beacuse I’m not sure the average person in the street could name any current TU leader. Arthur Scargill perhaps, but no one current, so why think that Steve Jobs is?

    Also, a different perspective on the likelihood that Steve as a name is the clincher, is the idea that ‘Jobs’ as in ‘Defend Jobs’ or ‘Jobs for Life’ has a good trade union orientation. A bit daft I know, but why not?


    Ian Manborde

    Ian Manborde

    20/01/2010 at 10:10 am

    • Thanks Ian

      In reality, ‘trade union leader’ was one of the options apparently given to those who couldn’t answer the question (so it is entirely random!) – but the notion of the link between ‘jobs’ and ‘union activity’ is an interesting piece of word association. Perhaps in the 23rd century all trade unionists will have ‘jobs’ somewhere in our name…


      28/01/2010 at 10:32 am

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