Of late, I have been trying to organize a trade union for sea kayak operators. This is something I decided to do, after observing the manner in which some employers were mistreating the sea kayak operators. Initially, I expected it (that is, the setting up of a trade union for sea kayak operators) to be an easy undertaking. But after having given it a try, I have come to the conclusion that it is definitely not easy – and I am actually on the verge of giving up.
I have come to realize that there are several factors that make it so hard to organize a trade union for sea kayak operators.
Firstly, most of the people who are employed as sea kayak operators tend to be folks who view it as a stop gap job: not something they intend to do for many years. They therefore don’t see the need for them to join a trade union. This notwithstanding the fact that although many initially take up sea kayaking jobs as ‘stop gap’ jobs indeed, they often end up staying in those jobs for considerable periods of time.
Secondly, as I have come to learn, a good number of sea kayak operators are not ’employees’ in the strict sense of the word. Rather, they are folks who work on commission basis, and who therefore often feel as if they don’t need to be unionized. This sort of (commissions-based) work arrangement actually makes the sea kayak operators in question feel as if they are in ‘partnership’ with the sea kayak owners — although the truth is that they are, for all purposes and intends, employees of the sea kayak owners.
Thirdly, quite a good number of the people who are employed to work as sea kayak operators turn out to be folks whose immigration statuses are not very regular. They are the so-called ‘illegals’. They don’t have papers. On that account, they are often willing to work for a pittance, under deplorable conditions, out of the fear that their employers would ‘expose’ them if they became too troublesome. Against that background, they (understandably) tend to be utterly disinterested in joining a trade union.