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  • FIRST POST
    • jondav
    • By jondav 13th Apr 17, 11:25 AM
    • 550Posts
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    jondav
    Union - To Join or not To Join?
    • #1
    • 13th Apr 17, 11:25 AM
    Union - To Join or not To Join? 13th Apr 17 at 11:25 AM
    As simple as the title really, just looking for thoughts on whether it's worth joining a union or not these days.

    I'm researching elsewhere but was interested to see what you folks think also.
Page 2
    • ohreally
    • By ohreally 14th Apr 17, 6:45 PM
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    ohreally
    Im not sure what you mean. The EIS is the union I am referring to.
    Originally posted by ali-t
    Striking isn't the first choice/ goto position, that aside you do realise there has to be a mandate from the members through a ballot before striking is even on the table?
    • zagfles
    • By zagfles 14th Apr 17, 6:52 PM
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    zagfles
    I refuse to join the union at work because they can't figure out how to let me opt out of donations to the Labour party, and I don't want to give money to Comrade Corbyn.
    Originally posted by rtho782
    Unions do often try to hide the option to opt out of the political fund but all must offer it. Who have you asked? Try someone higher in the union or email their head office.
    • zagfles
    • By zagfles 14th Apr 17, 6:54 PM
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    zagfles
    Striking isn't the first choice/ goto position, that aside you do realise there has to be a mandate from the members through a ballot before striking is even on the table?
    Originally posted by ohreally
    Also it's harder now as they need a 50% turnout as well as a majority of those voting.
    • ali-t
    • By ali-t 14th Apr 17, 7:06 PM
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    ali-t
    Ohreally, i am well aware of that but I dont agree with striking which is one of the reasons i am not in the union.

    The OP asked whether it is worth joining a union and i would say probably not but do some research on your own sector, the unions available and general feedback on them from members.
    If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got!
    • Valli
    • By Valli 14th Apr 17, 7:13 PM
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    Valli
    Ohreally, i am well aware of that but I dont agree with striking which is one of the reasons i am not in the union.

    The OP asked whether it is worth joining a union and i would say probably not but do some research on your own sector, the unions available and general feedback on them from members.
    Originally posted by ali-t
    I hope you never get an accusation made against you then, by a pupil or student.
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    • RichardD1970
    • By RichardD1970 14th Apr 17, 7:17 PM
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    RichardD1970
    The bit I replied to was,

    Personally i dont agree with striking so will always be at odds with the unions first line of defence and tbh i find them very toothless these days.
    Originally posted by ali-t
    which doesn't specify which union you are referring to.

    Yes, you originally referenced the education sector, but then referred to other sectors so how are we meant to know which ones you are talking about?

    If you had been more specific as to which union/sector you were referring to with the above statement then maybe the responses might have been different.
    • ohreally
    • By ohreally 14th Apr 17, 8:02 PM
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    ohreally
    I dont agree with striking which is one of the reasons i am not in the union.
    Originally posted by ali-t
    Yet you will sit back and enjoy the conditions of service fought for by trades unions and paid for by your member colleagues.

    Surely the least you can do is pay the subs and keep your head down.
    • Andy L
    • By Andy L 14th Apr 17, 8:05 PM
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    Andy L
    I refuse to join the union at work because they can't figure out how to let me opt out of donations to the Labour party, and I don't want to give money to Comrade Corbyn.
    Originally posted by rtho782
    Normally you tick the right box on the application form to opt in or out of the political fund. Which union is it?
    • zagfles
    • By zagfles 14th Apr 17, 9:30 PM
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    zagfles
    Normally you tick the right box on the application form to opt in or out of the political fund. Which union is it?
    Originally posted by Andy L
    They often don't have one. When I joined there wasn't one, but I knew there was an option to opt out, and I had to ask around a bit before getting told there was a separate form to fill in. Also on the union's main website with subs rates there is nothing about the rates without the political fund last time I looked. They definitely try to hide the opt out option.
    • rtho782
    • By rtho782 14th Apr 17, 10:00 PM
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    rtho782
    Normally you tick the right box on the application form to opt in or out of the political fund. Which union is it?
    Originally posted by Andy L
    In my case it's unite. The local shop stewards don't know how, although they know it's possible. The forms they have don't mention it. Their level of helpfulness doesn't inspire me anyway, so I will probabl live without.
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    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 14th Apr 17, 10:07 PM
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    sangie595
    I have stayed out of this until now for obvious reasons, but....

    Striking is always the last resort of any form of industrial action, and never the first. And industrial action is always the last resort when negotiation and reason have failed. And "unions" don't sanction industrial action - members do and always have. "The union" IS the membership - officials act on their behalf according to their instructions. Of course, if you can't be bothered to go to union meetings, or participate in your union, then whinging about what people decided is just plain ignorance. If anyone cares enough, there are plenty of opportunities to participate and to become part of the union leadership, by becoming a branch official, a lay rep, or more. If you don't like something, argue your case and fight to change it. It's your union. Not some distant organisation that you have no control over.

    As to whether you should join a union, your house is never going to burn down, so definitely don't insure your possessions; you are never going to fall ill in Spain, so don't bother with travel insurance; and got will never face losing your job, so don't join a union. But if and when the unexpected and unanticipated happens, just remember that your best friends at work won't be seen for dust, and you'll be in that room, facing a disciplinary panel that is out to get you, on your own. You'll be paying the employment tribunal fees yourself. And you'll be paying for a lawyer yourself. Or doing it yourself because you can't afford one.

    Yes, it's true that unions are no help whatever - when they can't change the law or the circumstances. Something might be unfair or unreasonable, but that doesn't mean it is against the law. Unions are to blame for everything. Not getting you off. Not being you paid enough. It's all their unions fault. And then, of course, they are expected to do all that work for you with no effort on your part, and certainly no industrial action that might inconvenience you.

    The reason that employment law has been rolled back over the last few years, the reason why employers don't value their employees, the reason why employers don't care what happens to their employees is because the labour force lost its taste for fighting for itself. When people blame the union, they forget that they are the union - and that it's themselves to blame.
    • zagfles
    • By zagfles 14th Apr 17, 10:57 PM
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    zagfles
    In my case it's unite. The local shop stewards don't know how, although they know it's possible. The forms they have don't mention it. Their level of helpfulness doesn't inspire me anyway, so I will probabl live without.
    Originally posted by rtho782
    It's hard to find, but see rules 23.4 onwards:

    http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/Unite Rule Book - updated following the 2015 Rules Conference vprinted 3-16 -111-28943.pdf

    ETA: URL seems to have got messed up as it has spaces in, so copy and paste all the above into your browser address rather than click

    Or google "unite rule book" if that doesn't work.
    Last edited by zagfles; 14-04-2017 at 11:02 PM.
    • ohreally
    • By ohreally 15th Apr 17, 9:15 AM
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    ohreally
    www.ourunion.org.uk/PoliticalFundExemption.pdf
    • saker75
    • By saker75 15th Apr 17, 9:31 AM
    • 229 Posts
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    saker75
    I don't do unions. I work in Higher Education and some institutions seem very unionised.
    I agree with Sangie about the benefits unions have fought for. Unfortunately many still seem stuck in the 1970s. We see London grinding to a halt, southern commuters unable to get to work, we see unions using protectionism and not helping their employees prepare for the future. For example, 24 Horsenden tubes, driver-less trains will happen at some stage - maybe not in the next decade but it is inevitable.

    I was in the GMB years ago. On our behalf they picked a fight with management, renegotiated our contracts and we ended up in a worse position to where we had started. We had an amazing Chief Executive and a rubbish union rep. Wasn't a fair fight!

    If I worked in other sectors I'd maybe think differently. But I too cannot stomach the influence the unions have over Labour - the bully tactics are still in evidence.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 15th Apr 17, 10:52 AM
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    sangie595
    Your union rep was your choice - you all elected them! If you thought you could do a better job, then you know what you should have done. Unions are the members. If they aren't doing what their members want then members need to stop telling them to do it! When a union comes out on strike that is because the members voted to do so - not because some amorphous individual in a London office thought it would be great. Nobody votes to go without pay to strike for fun or because the issue isn't important to them. And since the entire purpose of a strike is to disrupt the employers business, then if people can't get to work, or whatever, that is the reason they are doing it! There isn't a "we're going to strike, but we'll make sure nobody is inconvenienced" option!

    What is actually wrong is that too many people are happy to sit around whinging about their pay, their conditions, the unfairness of the law etc., Etc., but do absolutely nothing about it, and yet attack anyone else who is prepared to do something about it. It's not the unions fault that pay, conditions and the law are being eroded. It is the employers fault. They are the ones seeing the pay and conditions. They are the ones influencing the government to reduce employees rights so that we can compete with the likes of South Korea and China. If what we want are third world "rights" then we are on the road to them already. And it isn't the employers who stand between workers and that kind of future.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 15th Apr 17, 11:14 AM
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    TELLIT01
    I have stayed out of this until now for obvious reasons, but....

    Striking is always the last resort of any form of industrial action, and never the first. And industrial action is always the last resort when negotiation and reason have failed. And "unions" don't sanction industrial action - members do and always have. "The union" IS the membership - officials act on their behalf according to their instructions.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    My experience of unions would be more accurately reflected by replacing 'is' with 'should be'. I am now recently retired so I accept that my experience and therefore my view of unions is largely historical and things may have changed.
    I remember the days when union members were ordered out by shop stewards, and woe betide anybody who dared to stand up to, or speak out against them. That was the days of the 'closed shop' where if you didn't join the union you didn't get the job. The majority of unions are no longer like that, but there are still dinosaurs at the top of some unions who believe that is the way things should be.
    The analogy of an insurance policy is to my mind a poor one. You don't generally get insurance salesmen threatening to burn your house down if you don't take out fire insurance!
    Unions do have their place when it comes to workplace issues for an individual, but many now have little or no power when it comes to wage negotiation. In my years at DWP I certainly saw no evidence of the union having any success in that area.
    • bugslet
    • By bugslet 15th Apr 17, 1:26 PM
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    • 25,612 Thanks
    bugslet

    The reason that employment law has been rolled back over the last few years, the reason whysome employers don't value their employees, the reason why someemployers don't care what happens to their employees is because the labour force lost its taste for fighting for itself.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    Just saying......if I went round saying employees are bone idle, pilfering no marks, I'd quite rightly be pulled up.

    My opinion of unions tends to be formed from the cab of a truck. Sitting with my, to me, very dear and hard working father, who could barely make ends meet, and been surrounded by a baying and violent mob at Liverpool docks, has formed an opinion of unions that I'm now too old to change. Then there was the bullying, the shout of scab if you dared have a different opinion.

    As with TELL IT, I'm probably out of date , but it was an extremely nasty introduction to unions.

    Unsurprisingly when I was an employee, I never joined a union. None of the places were particularly unionised anyway.

    On a personal note, I don't generally join anything, I don't like being part of things. That trait alone would have stopped me anyway.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 15th Apr 17, 2:11 PM
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    TELLIT01

    Unsurprisingly when I was an employee, I never joined a union. None of the places were particularly unionised anyway.
    Originally posted by bugslet
    We're of the same mindset here. Some of the places I worked were strongly unionised but I still didn't join. When you have a company offering a 15% (yes that's not a typo), and the union taking the factory staff out for 3 weeks to get an extra 1/2% - and failing, you see a different mentality!

    I worked in IT, as did my brother, though with different companies. Where he worked the union tried to get the IT staff, about a dozen, out on strike to cripple the place rather than taking the shop floor workers out. It was the shop floor workers who had the dispute. The IT union had actually accepted their payrise. The IT staff left the union en-bloc in protest at being used in that way.
    As I said before, historical examples, but they explain why I have so little time for unions.
    • saker75
    • By saker75 15th Apr 17, 2:30 PM
    • 229 Posts
    • 235 Thanks
    saker75
    Your union rep was your choice - you all elected them! If you thought you could do a better job, then you know what you should have done. Unions are the members. If they aren't doing what their members want then members need to stop telling them to do it! When a union comes out on strike that is because the members voted to do so - not because some amorphous individual in a London office thought it would be great. Nobody votes to go without pay to strike for fun or because the issue isn't important to them. And since the entire purpose of a strike is to disrupt the employers business, then if people can't get to work, or whatever, that is the reason they are doing it! There isn't a "we're going to strike, but we'll make sure nobody is inconvenienced" option!

    What is actually wrong is that too many people are happy to sit around whinging about their pay, their conditions, the unfairness of the law etc., Etc., but do absolutely nothing about it, and yet attack anyone else who is prepared to do something about it. It's not the unions fault that pay, conditions and the law are being eroded. It is the employers fault. They are the ones seeing the pay and conditions. They are the ones influencing the government to reduce employees rights so that we can compete with the likes of South Korea and China. If what we want are third world "rights" then we are on the road to them already. And it isn't the employers who stand between workers and that kind of future.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    Ok that's one perspective.

    To be elected you must have patronage, popularity and not necessarily the skills for the job. Unions are incredibly removed from their membership hence membership engagement is so poor. Our GMB rep didn't work in our company let alone sector.

    Thousands of companies and organisations provide excellent working conditions for their staff without unions: good pay, work life balance, pensions and benefits. Looking after your staff makes good business sense.

    I don't think it is acceptable for unions to bring others down with it. Strikes were useful tools in the past but things have moved on. They achieve nothing and inconvenience many. Perhaps union should be financially liable for loss of productivity experienced by third parties.
    • jondav
    • By jondav 18th Apr 17, 1:09 PM
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    jondav
    Some great input here, thanks everyone for your opinions!

    I think reading through all of the posts, this is something that will go on hold for now because I'm not sure that joining a union would be of any benefit to me.

    That's not to say I'll never join one and having all of this information is very useful.
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