One resolution, 20 good reasons: join a union

Photo: 'Photographer is my life' / Getty. 

Joining a union in 2017 is one resolution you can make right now that's easy to keep and will serve you long after your other best intentions to dry out, get fit and eat your greens have expired (usually on 1 Feb, if not sooner). Here's why. 

As modern employment practices lurch alarmingly towards increasingly insecure and casualised working arrangements, there has never been a more important time for us to come together to challenge unscrupulous employers. Still the most effective way to do that is by joining a union.

Recent workSMART blogs describing two of the most pernicious forms of worker exploitation – the rise of zero hours contracts and the growth of the gig economy – give you some idea of what’s at stake.  

The rights enshrined in traditional employment law following decades of campaigning are under threat from new models of ‘flexible’ working that are driving down pay, job security and employment conditions. It’s time to reclaim our rights at work.

Unions -  the voice of Britain at work

There’s a union for everyone. The TUC brings together no fewer than 51 unions, representing 5.8 million workers across all sectors and industries in the British economy. Globally, union members total a whopping 180 million in more than 160 countries. So, we’ve got strength in numbers.

Here in a nutshell are 20 things unions have done and can do for you.

On average, people in unionised workplaces are more likely than non-unionised workers to:

  1. get paid more (on average £4,000 a year more according to a 2014 government report);   
  2. get more paid holidays;
  3. have more flexible working hours;
  4. have a permanent and full-time job; and
  5. get better pension and sickness benefits.

Union campaigning helped get the following basic work rights on to the law books:

  1. The National Minimum Wage
  2. Equal pay
  3. Equal opportunities
  4. Protection from discrimination on grounds of maternity and sickness
  5. Maternity pay
  6. Paid annual leave
  7. The two-day weekend
  8. Health and safety legislation

Unions help members:

  1. fight workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination;
  2. access workplace learning and skills (while 40% of employers provide none whatsoever, unions help 200,000 people every year get the training they need to move on in their careers); and
  3. get legal advice at work.

They’ve supported workers to:

  1. fight against zero-hours contracts.

As well as (amongst many others):

  1. persuading progressive employers to adopt the Living Wage;
  2. defending our NHS; and
  3. campaigning on housing and mental health help.

All this and more for just a few pounds a month. To find out which union can support you at work, visit workSMART’s Union Finder today.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Also see: What have the trade unions done for us? [video]