I posted this series in May 2016, but I feel it’s more important than ever to reiterate the importance of Unions for worker’s rights. I apologise in advance to anyone who likes to have a take-away. In this piece, I am very opinionated 🙂
May 3rd, 2016
I have been a member of a trade union ever since I work.
There has never been a question for me to join because I feel workers are always more influential when they are united and organised, and that is the only way to get our rights. It never occurred to me that other workers might find it too “expensive!” to join.
However, I’ve heard that reason for not joining a lot lately as well as “They don’t do anything for me!” Well, of course, they don’t if you don’t join!
Our union has done a lot for me. It saved me my job at least twice. It also has made my working situation bearable.
Our union fee is about 8-10£ a month. That could be seen as too “expensive” but well: How often do you go and get a takeaway which at least is the same amount of money? So you rather get crappy food and ruin your health for a tenner than support workers rights and help make unions strong again? Yea, I can see sense in that!
Only between 30 and 40% of the staff of the company I work for is in the union. Even if the union would want us to strike the company could still function on 60-70% of staff. It would be difficult, but it would work. That would not happen if 99% would be organised in the union and all of us walked out.
No wonder our rights are taken away from us bit by bit because the company knows they have nothing to fear. And to be honest, I do not get it!
Have people forgotten how unions work? The more are members, the more can walk out and put pressure on a company, and the more rights workers get. Also, the union has more money and can achieve more.
Another argument in Britain is that Margret Thatcher took away lots of rights and power of the unions, and that is why they can’t do anything anymore. Well, when the unions started, they had no rights or control at all. They fought for it. They made it happen, and many union members lost their lives to get us our rights!
It is not only the Conservatives in the past who try to get our rights taken away. The actual Conservative government tried very hard to change opening hours on Sundays. They wanted it to be longer. My union encouraged me to campaign against it and to tell my MP how it would affect me and what I think of it. After all, an MP wants to be voted for again next time an election comes around. If he does something unpopular, he or she won’t get more votes. So I told him that longer Sunday opening hours means less time with my family and more pressure by the company and I am not happy with it. It was not only our union which worked for it but others too and duh: It worked. The law didn’t go through! Which proves workers and unions still have power if we execute it.
But that is probably another thing with today’s workers. We rather have a gadget or person do things for us than to get our ar… up and be the change we want to see. But that doesn’t work. It only works if we stop complaining about our fate and start campaigning for the change we want to see.
The first union members understood that. It was incredibly dangerous to be a union member, and still, they did it. They joined and they fought and some of them got imprisoned, sent to Australia or even died. Should their sacrifices be for nothing because we are too brain-dead to understand how unions work and rather get fat on takeaways or try to bear our bad work situations with antidepressants and make more companies rich by taking away workers rights?
Sometimes I despair with today’s world and it’s human beings. It seems obvious to me that being in the union helps to make our working life better because the more members a union has, the more power it has no matter what politicians try to do. But the powerful know that most of us workers do not understand anymore how important unions are and how they work. They also do everything to distract us from our own situation and to keep us from remembering.
So please stop working in their favour. Start to think for yourself and take the power given to you by joining a trade union!
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