What is direct hiring and firing power?
Direct hiring and firing power is the ability to choose to hire or fire someone without any regular oversight.
For example, a tech director at a company will hire all the programmers, choose their salaries, and set their working conditions. They can also begin firing and disciplinary procedures at their own discretion. There maybe another person above them (like a CEO or MD) that can veto those decisions, but generally speaking, a technical director will be able to hire and fire whoever they want.
In contrast, a tech manager/lead or senior employee will often interview candidates and may even run the majority of the interview process, but they will still need the sign-off from the tech director . Similarly for firings, senior employees usually have to ask the tech director for permission to begin the firing process with HR. These senior employees do not have hiring or firing power even though they can be heavily involved in the process.
Why are people with direct hiring and firing power excluded from the union?
The aim is to exclude those with a large amount of power in a workplace, and direct hiring and firing power is a clear indication that of that.
- Managers and leads often experience poor working conditions similar to their reports. But, there is a blurry line between manager, team lead, and a senior employee with a lot of sway. Hiring and firing power is a concrete rule which shows that someone has significantly more power than (and in fact power over) the average worker.
- Because we're a democratic organisation, admitting members with a lot of workplace power automatically changes the dynamic and focus of the union. Those with large amounts of power would be able to use their vote to benefit themselves and other people in power by voting to not strike, voting to go easy on their workplace, watering down initiatives or demands, etc.
- Having people with power around also silences those without power. If a boss with a lot of power (or boss's boss) were at a union meeting, workers are MUCH less likely to go against their wishes or even speak up. Even if they are the best boss in the world, it still changes the dynamic.
- There is a risk of internal conflict when employers join the same union as those that they can hire and fire. Problems would arise, for example, if a case of unfair dismissal arose and we had to represent both the employee who was dismissed and the employer that dismissed them.