Heart Unions Week: Why join a union

Five reasons to join a trade union in Heart Unions Week

Trade unions against hate, PCS union

Unions are celebrating Heart Unions Week, a chance for people to share their stories of why unions are important to them and the vital work they do.

Taking place from 13-19 February, the annual campaign aims to demonstrate the work unions carry out for working people and encourage others to join the movement.  

This year, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) highlighted the ‘immense challenge’ faced by members who have been forced to navigate through a global pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

They emphasised the trade union movement at the forefront of rising to meet this challenge to campaign for fair pay, demanding action to protect jobs and supporting members through ‘thick and thin’.

Since the surge in industrial action over the last year, unions have expressed increasing growth in membership, such as the National Education Union who recording over 32,000 new applications since their strike action was announced.

In the UK more than six million workers are currently in a union, so why join one?

Five reasons to join a union

  1. Respect at work

In the face of a cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation, workers are facing huge decreases in their standard of living as a result of stagnant wages.

By fighting for better pay and conditions, trade unions are also fighting for basic worker respect and dignity.

2. Power in the collective

Joining a union turns one voice into many, and allows members to join a collective which puts pressure on employers to listen.

3. Representation

Union members can gain access to legal advice and representation at employment tribunals, as well as victims of discrimination, harassment and bullying.

4. Securing a fair deal

Every week unions are winning workers a fair deal when it comes to pay and better working conditions that would otherwise go unaddressed, particularly important now with the changing face of workplaces and the rise of the gig economy.

5. Rights we enjoy today because of trade unions

Rights such as holiday pay, maternity leave and sick pay were secured through union action and campaigns, all of which we are arguably much better off for.

What union leaders say

We asked leaders of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union why people should get unionised.

Fran Heathcote, PCS National President – “There has probably never been a more important time than right now to be part of a union.

“Standing up for you, making sure you have decency at work and a bit of respect at work – that’s all we ask for really.

“The demands we make are quite modest. They are to give our members enough money to get by on and to protect their terms and conditions at work.

“Heart Unions Week is important and I think there will be support for it across the whole movement at the moment because there are so many workers with so many concerns that we need to join up and coordinate.”

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary – “If you’re not in a union you’re on your own and at the mercy of whether your boss is a good or a bad boss.

“When you come to a union you join a collective.

“What we’ve seen here on this picket line at the British Museum is it’s young, diverse and people feel empowered.

“People shouldn’t just join for protection of work but to get active and make sure that their union does the things you want it to do in your workplace.”

The TUC will host a series of events and talks as part of the week’s action, as well as unions and members sharing their stories on social media.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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