Monday, February 02, 2009

Don’t mention the Unions

While waiting at home for British Gas to turn up, I’ve tried to catch up on some reading. I came across this article in this weeks’ “Inside Housing” and have fired off this email to the Editor.

Dear Editor

I am somewhat amazed that in the otherwise informative article “Prepare for the Worse” (
Inside Housing 30 January 2009 - threat of redundancies), there was no mention of trade unions? Expecting employees to suddenly become employment rights experts, to challenge selection procedures and to carry out their own appeals is not realistic.

Solicitors are usually not allowed to represent people during any internal proceedings so waiting until after you have been sacked to ask for advice is not the best approach. Union members also do not have to pay solicitors for employment law advice.

I think that in the best of times you should join a trade union but in this really difficult period the best approach to safeguarding your job is a trade union application form.

People spend a fortune insuring their cars but don’t spend a few quid per week insuring their livelihoods.


Anonymous said...

Hi john, You hit the nail on the head, A lot of non members run around like headless chickens when redundancies come up, Sorry but we only look after members. SO GET IN A UNION NOW BEFORE IT'S TO LATE...

Anonymous said...

true -but actually members do not get access to legal advice until legal advice is provided having gone through the usual processes. You mean representation from an activist or official?
A lot of members think they can access employment legal services directly so its better not to misadvise

John Gray said...

Hi Paul
Very true but remember it is up to us to make sure that we talk to every potential UNISON member and explain the benefits of membership (which you are very good at). A difficult job at times but essential.

Hi Anon
When as a steward or branch officer you advise members on employment law or health & Safety you are giving them “advice”? We are not solicitors and probably rightly are not allowed to call it “legal advice” but we do spend much of our time explaining legal issues to our members (and management!). Personally I have never had a member ask for “legal advice” from “officials” until the appropriate time e.g after their appeal against dismissal or discrimination claim has been rejected.

I do constantly ring the branch and my regional officers for such “advice”. If you are upfront and explain the process to members properly from the beginning then I don’t think this is an issue.