Why you should join the union (and when)
“I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.”
— Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
One of the roles of being an arc Officer is to promote the union and to recruit new members. This is, of course, a responsibility of all of the members but I am happy to accept my share of that responsibility.
So how do I convince the non-member that it is a good idea to join?
I know that the main reason given for not joining is “no one asked me”. Well, that is all well and good but we must ask in the right way. This is a mixture of pointing out the benefits of membership and mentioning some of the potential down sides of not being a member.
There is plenty written elsewhere about the benefits the union brings by way of collective bargaining, having a voice in the workplace and protecting jobs so my words here are about dealing with problems that may arise.
A major part of my responsibilities over recent years has been to look after the personal casework and the personal caseworkers and this, inevitably, means I have heard many tales of woe. I usually describe this as: “Think of something silly/daft that could be done to/by someone and I shall find you an example of it”.
We are all subject to potentially challenging issues with our staff, our managers, our colleagues, our customers and life in general. All of these areas can bring our working life under some sort of challenge and facing them alone may not be the best way of reaching the best outcome. To have support at times of trouble is an obvious benefit but all too often I find myself turning away those who need assistance because they had taken the view that it could never happen to them.
Here’s a recording from many a phone call:
Call Centre Operative: “Hello Mutual Union Insurance Co, how can I help you? “
Non customer: “My house burnt down yesterday and I should like some insurance please.”
ARC Member: “Can you help me please? I got a letter last week saying that I have been accused of bullying (or computer misuse, poor performance etc.).”
ARC: “Yes of course, I shall find you a caseworker to assist”
ARC: “You joined the union yesterday so I am not able to help”
The last response would not actually be as harsh as this but it is blatantly unfair on “paid up” members to offer our services and support to those who have arrived with a pre-existing problem. The solution is to be a member and not use the service at all, which I think is how we want to operate in respect of all of our insurance dealings. The Disraeli quote at the beginning seems to sum it up.
The purpose of this is to help with recruitment without listing all the things that could go wrong which could be made better by having someone on your side.
On a purely practical note please refer potential ARC members to www.fda.org.uk where they can join online. If you have any HO or SO colleagues interested they may want to look at wearekeystone.org.uk.
And finally, here is a photo of me on a fully insured motorcycle – I am prepared for the worst (helmet, gloves, boots and armoured clothing and I have spare fuel in the red bag) and my expectations of the best were fully met.