Friday, 4 December 2009

The Union Advantage

Colleagues,

Yesterday the TUC launched a handy new publication which I can see being useful to reps in their recruitment activity.

The Union Advantage is a contemporary review of all of the benefits that accrue from trade union membership particularly as it relates to pay and health and safety matters. Although these two have been traditional features of recruitment campaigns we can now, for example, add learning and skills matters to the list.

The report can be downloaded at:

http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/unionadvantage.pdf

Running alongside the new report is a leaflet, Want Better Pay, Conditions and Benefits at Work? which reps should be using alongside any material from their own union - although some unions prefer to use their own material.

The TUC press release doesn't say where you can get the new leaflets from but if you e-mail me I'll try and find out.

What I am particularly interested in is whether you feel you can add to the TUC's report from your own experience of the value of trade union membership.

I've used that term over the years particularly with new reps when I've asked them to consider what the average member thinks as they look at their wage slip and asks, looking at the deducation for union subs, 'what did I get for that'?

Unless reps can provide a clear, strong impression of what members do in fact get out of membership they can easily find themselves on the backfoot and having to argue hard to recruit new workers and retain exisitng members.

So, what do you say is the value of trade union membership?

All and any comments welcome.

Cheers

Ian

6 comments:

Jas said...

Ian,

All of the usual stuff is in the report but as this it's a TUC document it ignore the big political stuff like being part of the big fight against poverty, anti-union bosses etc.

What's wrong with saying that workers should be in a union for political reasons as well as personal - and I'm sure someone has said the personal is the politcal anyway!

I would also add that for me union membership is about the creative solution to tackling the breakdown in social and community bounds.

The legacy of Thatcherism is the destruction of these kind of ties whether they are workplace or social and union membership should proudly proclaim a willingness to be part of that renewal.

Thats what I think anyway.

Jas

Peter said...

Hi Ian,

I agree with the last colleague's comments at a personal level but find that too many members are put off by any mention of politics.

In relation to the TUC report I particularly liked section 6 where it talked about vulnerable workers - and spoke more broadly about how jusy about everyone (no MPs though eh!) are vulnerable in some way and that unions can be key to reducing exploitation and limiting the degree of overall unemployment vulnerability.

As we blunder on through the recession this is dead important.

I see today that Corus are closing down a steel plant and I know that there union is big on redundancy support for members - so theres a good example of union support for workers despite the employer's decision to dump them after god knows how many years of service - I bet if you add it all up it runs to centuries worth of contributions to millions of pounds of profit!

Anyway hope to see you soon if not have agood Xmas and see you on a course in the new year.

Peter E

Andrew Maybury said...

Hi Ian,

I sort of agree with what has been said by Jas and Peter. What I find is that those who recognise the political reality of the employment relationship do not even have to be recruited - they will approach you on day one for an application form. However, they seem in a minority. Many of the others see it as some form of insurance policy should anything happen, so I think there is some recognition from them about the true nature of the employment relationship.

I think Peter is right that many are put off by an explicitly political message and I wish there was some way round this. I do try and make the political links explicit though when I talk to members or represent them.

Best Wishes

Andrew

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Andrew,

Many thanks for the input.

I suppose a mixture of the two, as you suggest, is the right approach, particularly if you can relate the political nature of your approach to a specific workplace context.

I also agree that for many members trade union memnbership is simply seen as a form of insurance which, despite our own political interests, is sufficient at least to get them into membership - at least we can, on a longer-term basis, attempt to engage these workers in other debates.

Thanks again Andrew - please keep feeding your thoughts into the blog.

Ian

ShopSteward85 said...

I take the position of the first person to respond to this question.

Why, when the movement faces steady decline, does the TUC not simply state that trade union membership must be seen as a wider, political statement that places a strong emphasis on state ownership of key services e.g. royal mail, support for environmentally friendly renewable energies etc?

This narrow focus on, for example, a partnership with employers on learning and skills does not solidly place us in a strong, indepedent position - free from employer 'partnership' and free from New Labour interference.

There is nothing wrong in the core message of the TUC's new document but it becomes redundant if it is not based on a strategy to secure the long-term, sustainable future of the trade union movement.

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