A number of people are becoming active in politics and are asking which Union should they join because if a LP member, you must join a Union if eligible and must pay the political levy if the Union has a political fund. Anyway, if at work, it’s a good thing to do, for yourself and for others.

People join Unions because of where they work and who they work for; the principle is that as socialists and trade union militants, we should/must defend industrial unionism. In much of Europe, the Unions are even closer adjuncts of the political parties than in the UK and this is not a good thing.

I describe my rules and offer a web site URL below/overleaf.

  1. One should join the biggest union at your workplace with a recognition agreement for your role and so PCS, UCU & NEU, who are not affiliated to the Labour Party, must be considered as in some cases must Community & Prospect which are much smaller.
  2. If at a site/employer with no recognition agreement, you should join the biggest union at your workplace, if you know what it is, otherwise the obviously biggest Union in the industry.
  3. These criteria might be adjusted by career plans; in some careers, Unison or the NEU might be a better long term choice than say the GMB (or Unite).
  4. Only once commitment to industrial unionism has been fulfilled can and should we consider political factors such as the fact of affiliation to the party or your judgement about the leadership of the Union. i.e. if the choice[1] is between Community and Prospect, join Community, which is affiliated

And now, having considered all these rules, we can make a choice on which Union to join because of its politics. While often Unite may seem the best choice, we should all be aware, from observation, that its leadership’s commitment to a member led party is questionable.

After I wrote this, I was pointed at https://www.tuc.org.uk/about-unions/find-union-you, which fortunately agrees with me.

[1] On a personal note, I am in the GMB because I applied this rule when I left the Civil Service and joined APEX rather than ASTEMS because I felt its affiliation to the Labour Party was more secure. I also avoided BIFU because of its size, I felt it too small to be able to protect me and after CPSA it seemed a bit tame.

Image Credit: By Mike Faherty, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

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