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Have you been/are you a member of a Trades Union?

(55 Posts)
Riverwalk Tue 08-Sep-20 13:32:05

I just caught the tail end of You & Yours on Radio 4 - a phone-in about returning to the work place.

A woman was complaining that she had to return to the office against her will - Winifred Robinson asked her if she was a member of a TU.

She said no but she had enquired about union membership but was told that they couldn't help her with an already existing complaint - quite right too I thought!

Why would you even think that you could get free, expensive, legal representation without paying your dues over the years?

grandtanteJE65 Tue 08-Sep-20 13:36:13

Our generation took it for granted that membership of a trade union was a neccessity, so we joined.

Our children and grandchildren tend to see membership as an insurance they don't need.

I have often wondered here on gransnet when people talk about difficulties at work whey they don't go to their unions, but then I wonder whether they are members of one, or not.

Jane10 Tue 08-Sep-20 13:42:29

I was in a union too. I thought I'd better join. I didn't gain anything from membership but then I didn't need help. Maybe more of an insurance policy really. I knew our local shop stewards but they weren't very impressive.

tanith Tue 08-Sep-20 13:52:27

I've been a Union member 30+yrs i only got my ill health retirement pension because they helped me. I've been retired 15yrs but my membership has continued with no more subs as a retired member. I'd always advise people to join if they can.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 08-Sep-20 13:58:13

No, I lost a job straight out of school because I refused to join the workplace union (it was in a National Newspaper office Fleet Street)

Granny23 Tue 08-Sep-20 14:17:49

I joined the relevant Union the week I started work at 15. When I returned to work after a five year break to have 2 DDs, I sought out the Union Shop Steward to join, only to be told that they did not welcome 'part time Women' . Having assured him that I was always a woman, even in my spare time, we did not part friends. In my next job I did sign up but was horrified to find at their annual Christmas Lunch that all the men got a bottle of whisky, while the few women in the union were given a small, cheap box of chocolates. I hope that today's Unions are more female friendly grin

suziewoozie Tue 08-Sep-20 14:26:13

People never know when TU membership might be useful - I agree that it’s very much an insurance policy for many people but it can be more than that. Some of the strongest most influential ones are professional ones like the BMA for example. In my last role, I saw many examples of excellent TU legal representation in various professions which saved peoples careers.

Jane10 Tue 08-Sep-20 14:48:30

Granny23-shock. That's appalling. I hope you complained about it. Actually I bet you did!

suziewoozie Tue 08-Sep-20 16:01:26

I remember when company pension schemes weren’t open to part time women workers or sometimes even to full time women workers. Unions fought to get that changed eventually

Grandad1943 Tue 08-Sep-20 16:02:34

Many people think of trade union membership as them paying a subscription to receive a service if and when required.

However, trade unions at their core belong to their members, are run by their lay members in the service of their lay members. In that, it is essential that members become involved and be prepared to challenge all that they see and do not care for in their union.

To that end be prepared to stand for election so as to place your views in front of others to accept or reject. If you feel that your workplace union rep is not very good or does not represent your views, then stand in election against that person when the time for such a ballot comes about.

Be prepared to take up your union's education facilities be that basic core learning or specialised courses such as industrial law or workplace health and safety.

Any member can stand to be elected to their unions higher committees be that at branch level, district, regional or National and through those committees lay members set the industrial and political strategy of their union and that can mean any member can become involved in setting the policies of the Parliamentary Labour party.

Trade unions survive by the involvement of their memberships and therefore anyone joining should also consider what they can contribute to the organisation by way of becoming a member.

Trade unions are in being to enable working people to organise and function together for the betterment of all.

Hellogirl1 Tue 08-Sep-20 16:25:44

In my last job I joined SOGAT, a printing union, because it was a requirement, although I wasn`t a printer, I worked in the canteen.

Illte Tue 08-Sep-20 16:29:05

Absolutely. Always been a Union member from my student days till now and always will be.

It's not just about personal protection but about unity.

My great grandfather was a founder member of a union back in the 1880s.

I think I'll have on my gravestone She always paid her dues.😬

Nannarose Tue 08-Sep-20 16:31:39

In my very first week of work, I followed my mum's advice to sign up for the pension, and my dad's to join a union. I am now a retired member, and of course I get my pension!

Charleygirl5 Tue 08-Sep-20 16:33:56

I agree with Jane10 and although I never needed to use it I never regretted it.

EllanVannin Tue 08-Sep-20 16:38:21

I was in Unison.

M0nica Tue 08-Sep-20 16:50:07

I was a union member when working and remain one still as a retired member.

Both DC have belonged to unions when they were there. At one point DD was a shop steward. DS is also an active trade unionist.

I lost out with an employer who did not let part timers join the pension scheme. it was quite indiscriminate as to whether you were male or female. It was an engineering researh centre and had very few female employees.

AGAA4 Tue 08-Sep-20 16:55:24

A friend who had been a member of a union for many years had a dispute with her employer which resulted in a tribunal. The union helped her through each stage and were with her at the tribunal itself. She won her case and was very glad she had been a member of the union.

MerylStreep Tue 08-Sep-20 17:47:26

A member for 40 years from age 15 when I started my 6 year apprenticeship ( printing trade)
I was MOC in several printers. I like to think I helped a lot of people when in that position.

growstuff Tue 08-Sep-20 17:55:15


No, I lost a job straight out of school because I refused to join the workplace union (it was in a National Newspaper office Fleet Street)

Was it NATSOPA? I was a member for four years and I don't remember there was ever any choice.

Callistemon Tue 08-Sep-20 18:04:34

Yes and I was a Union rep at one time.

It always annoyed me that non-members who contributed nothing were always more than happy to accept pay rises etc.

Iam64 Tue 08-Sep-20 18:33:59

Yes a TU member for 35 years.
Like Callistemon, I was irritated by non members who contributed nothing, grumbled about the Union but benefited from our commitment and negotiations.

avitorl Tue 08-Sep-20 18:43:43

Yes, I was always a Union Member and joined in Union Actions to improve conditions and I was also disgusted at the non Union workers who seemed to think they existed on a higher plane than Union Members but grabbed everything we had gained for them

welbeck Tue 08-Sep-20 18:45:49

when i joined it was a condition of service, that you had to join a union. it had recently been opened out a bit so that you had a choice of three to join, but really only one was most suited to a salaried job, the others were for waged workers at that organisation.
i think it's good to be in a union. i assumed it was for collective bargaining, better conditions, safety etc.
it's only latterly that people seem to think primarily of what they can get out of it individually.
perhaps that's why there are fewer members now; greater selfishness.

CanadianGran Tue 08-Sep-20 19:13:23

Yes, union member here, and proud to be.

Unions fought long and hard to protect workers rights, decent wages and limited weekly hours. Without unions there would still be 12 year olds going down dangerous mines; in fact those conditions still exist in some countries without organized labour.

I don't believe there are choices here; if your job is covered by a union's collective agreement, then you must join if you take the job.

Maggiemaybe Tue 08-Sep-20 19:31:30

Yes, I've always joined the union and attended meetings, wherever I've worked. One workplace wasn't unionised when I first started there in the 70s, then a union was invited in for those members who wanted to join. One of my colleagues said he wouldn't speak ever again to anyone who did, and he kept that up (silly man) for about a week. I think he was surprised by how many people he had to be careful not to speak to during that time! grin

To be honest, UNISON weren't a lot of direct help to me when I needed them, but the very threat of "Well, I'd better run this past my union rep" gave my management pause for thought and me the chance to sort out my own problem. I did hear that shortly after I'd left they started to take a lot more interest in what was going on in that particular workplace, so others did get the help they needed.