21st Century Network

5 12 2006

Is there a place for Connect South and
Trade Unions in today’s world?
Well, the answer to me, (a committed
trade unionist), is of course, a resounding

YES!

The question from my frame of
reference is essentially a ‘no-brainer’, because
in the past ten years, I have seen at first hand
the benefits of being a trade union member,
both from a personal perspective and at
second hand by seeing other members benefit
greatly from being in Connect.
The more interesting aspect is ‘How
best can trade unions generally and Connect
specifically make themselves seen to be
relevant in a 21CN world’ and more
especially, ‘Why do non-trade unionists have
such a negative view of trade unions’? With
its subsequent impact on recruitment and
membership numbers.

Being a trade unionist is a numbers
game – the more of us there are the more
effective we can be and without a critical
mass of membership, we are powerless.
Some things are timeless and the need
for an organisation to exist which tries to
address the intrinsic imbalance in the power
relationship in the workplace is one of these.
The employer has all the good cards
and God loves the big battalions’ etc. etc.
if trade unions did not exist, then believe
me, they would very quickly be ‘invented’.

The mystery to me is more about
how or why this self-evident truth (to me) is
not shared by large parts of the working
population?

Essentially I believe this to be one of
a misconception in general by people who
know little or nothing about trade unions
(because they work in a non-unionised
environment) about what modern trade
unions are really all about; which is
representing their members and protecting
their rights at work.

This is particularly true in the
environment that Connect South work in –
representing members in small work places
with no company based trade union
structure in place to protect them.
In practice the biggest single thing
that we as an organisation (and more
specifically as a local branch) do for our
members who come to us with a problem, is
incredibly simple.

We advise them of their rights and
help to them to secure these rights.
Simple in essence, in practice often
complex and stressful to secure. An
individual seeking redress against a big
company is as a lamb to the slaughter.
On their own they have little to no
chance of success. With us they have at
least a fighting chance.
This is why people would be daft not
to have the back-up of a professional
structure in experts in Workplace Law to
hand when the time calls. i.e. join a trade
union!

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