The leaving (and rejoining) of Unison


Unison is one of the largest trade unions in the UK. I generally feel that being a member of a trade union is important and seeing as most of the social workers in my local authority are in Unison, it seemed like an obvious choice. I’m a bit of an on-off Unison member (currently on) and have a bit of a history with them – having left in a fit of pique sometime last year after becoming overly annoyed by the deputy secretary of the branch that I am in.

I got my apology (he was in the wrong – seriously!) and returned because ultimately there isn’t much in the way of alternatives (I am also a member of BASW but I see that has having a different role).

Leaving in a huff wasn’t quite as easy as I wanted it to be and I didn’t make much of a dramatic effect because the dues kept being taken out of my salary for a good few months afterwards! And when I did return, or when I said I did at least, it took a few more months for the dues to be re-added back to my salary – so I’m sure it balanced out in the end and in any case, I’ve never really needed to access Unison support services on a personal level but I have always been sympathetic to the idea of unionisation.

image indigo goat @ flickr

I’ve since changed my subscription method to direct debit – much better and easier to cancel if I ever do feel like stomping off into the sunset again.

I had a little more interaction with my favourite deputy secretary last week though and found it quite comical.

I have two work email addresses. One with the local authority and one with the NHS. I don’t use the local authority one very much and have one of those ‘out of office’ messages attached to it as I might check it as little as once a week or at the most every couple of days.

The NHS one is what I’d call my usual work email address.

All my Unison correspondence was going to my local authority email so I sent a functional email asking for any information to be forwarded to my NHS email.

I got a reply to my Local authority email thanking me and asking me if I’d been to some event a week earlier.

I replied that I might have been able to go (ok, that was probably a white lie.. ) if the information had been sent to the email address I actually use on a regular basis.

I got a reply, again to the local authority email, saying they had added my other email to their mailing list and would in the future contact me on that email (!).

I replied that I would actually find correspondence easier if it was done through my NHS email.

I received a lovely email (again to the local authority email) thanking me and emphasising the importance of keeping in touch.

It did make me chuckle more than anything else. I sent a terse email, again from the NHS address saying something like ‘Please contact me here in future’.

To be honest, I’d be more bothered if I thought Unison would send me anything useful..

6 thoughts on “The leaving (and rejoining) of Unison

  1. I have been a member of my union for 28 years and I was thinking of coming outuntil recently then they helped me sort out my poor treatment by management so I guess I am glad I didn’t…………
    “You don’t get me I’m part of a union ’till the day I die…’till the day I die!”

  2. Yeah, that’s why I was a non-member for a short time. It made me nervous to be honest. For all the vague incompetencies of particular union people, I’d rather have them on my side just in case anything did happen..

  3. Again. Unions for social workers. Wow. Just not done here in the US. Unions are strictly a blue-collar thing over here, and their power has been slowly whittled away over the years. Cost employers too much money, you see, what with having to pay their employees a living wage, offer health insurance, retirement, and the like.

  4. Actually, there are some unions for social workers over here, though they are few and far between. State employees in my region, including protective services workers, are unionized. And my father–also a social worker–is actually the esteemed union representative for his district of state employees. I wish I had something great to say about social work unions, what with this intimate connection to them. I’m afraid from what I’ve observed, I’m with cb. I love the idea of unions. But I’ll be honest. My dad doesn’t work very hard.

  5. I personally think one of the difficulties with Unison is that it is so big and covers so many different bases. It covers basically everyone in public service. But for saying that and as Silva said, if you do have difficulties it is better to have them on your side – especially as they are so entrenched in the systems now that they have pretty strong channels of discussion with management. .

  6. I will give my dad a little credit. When someone is about to lose a job or unfairly receive other severe discipline, he does go to bat for them in a pretty dramatic way. He takes things to arbitration and often is able to put a bullying employer in their place. I agree that when you’re in a tough place, it’s nice to have a union around.

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