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The best (and cheapest) union?

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by b_m, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. b_m

    b_m New commenter

    I am currently a member of NUT, but their monthly fees seem to be increasing on an annual basis. All I really get from them is the legal protection that is the reason so many of us are union members, and I get a little diary every year if I remember to pick one up from the stack in the staffroom! The various national conferences aren't of interest to me, and the CPD they offer is invariably too far away.
    I'm considering changing unions, but i'm not sure on costs and benefits for the other unions! Would people be prepared to post what union they're with, how much they pay monthly and what the "get" for this?
    Hopefully I can save a few pennies each month by changing unions!
     
  2. b_m

    b_m New commenter

    I am currently a member of NUT, but their monthly fees seem to be increasing on an annual basis. All I really get from them is the legal protection that is the reason so many of us are union members, and I get a little diary every year if I remember to pick one up from the stack in the staffroom! The various national conferences aren't of interest to me, and the CPD they offer is invariably too far away.
    I'm considering changing unions, but i'm not sure on costs and benefits for the other unions! Would people be prepared to post what union they're with, how much they pay monthly and what the "get" for this?
    Hopefully I can save a few pennies each month by changing unions!
     
  3. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    2 things you have missed.
    First - they are your voice at National level. Look at the main 3 and see which one you agree with most.
    Second - they represent you when times get tough. Who is the most effective union rep. at your school / in your area. Don't join a union that has no representation at your school (unless you can be bothered to build it up) or area and then expect them to be as effective in helping you as the local established union(s).
    There are also other things to consider - such as will your union allow you to stay a member if you cross a picket line (a legal one that is). The NUT does. The NASUWT didn't used to - not sure if that has changed.
    Lastly, the notion of 'saving a few pennies by changing unions' misses the point a little. And I wouldn't be too vocal about it, or whichever one you do end up joining might be less than enthusiastic about helping someone out who is quite so mercenary.
     
  4. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter


    Money cant come into it. Think they are all about the same any way. You need to look at issues important to you and see which fits best. I initially joined the same union as my Dad as a student and for first few years of my career. However I changed as I felt the union was more geared to secondary teacher issues so I changed to one that seemed more active with primary school issues. I am now considering changing again due to the lack of action on a key issue that directly affects me and my phase, to a union that has been very active on the issue and has secured some success at local level. Also a friend in my area was very poorly supported through redundancy by the regional area rep of my union, who took over a week to meet with her. All other unions met with staff the next day. My friend was made redundant.
    The striking point is also worth considering as some unions are more militant than others. You need to ask how you would feel about being the only teacher to strike in a school where everyone else is in a different union. Or in reverse, the only one to cross a picket line because you are not in that union.
     
  5. b_m

    b_m New commenter

    To be honest they're not. I didn't ask for a pay freeze but have one, I didn't ask to be in a school thats becoming an academy, but I am. My voice at national level hasn't got me what I expect or want from my job.
    To be honest they're all a bit useless. We're converting to an academy, we have to cut costs. Would you like to be the one to raise your head above the parapet when cuts are being considered? I certainly wouldn't and to be honest I don't think many union reps in school will- quite sensibly!
    Since we have a pay freeze, the notion of saving a few pennies seems completely reasonable. Unless the unions are going to cut their fees?
     
    MissSmithMarable likes this.
  6. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    I said that they are your voice at National level. Not the DFE. Huge difference.
    Then why not get involved yourself? A union is only as strong as its members.
    No - which is why a strong regional union is all the more important. Look at who is the most organised in the area.
    Again - you miss the point. Unions aren't some form of quasi governmental educational ombudsman put there to help protect and save teachers in time of trouble. Nor are they profit making organisations, like telephone or power companies, as your attitude suggests. They are made up of your collegues who are largely unpaid, and through some sense of solidarity trying to help prevent fellow teachers from being f***ed over by the government and / or poor local management. They are far from perfect - but are consistently undermined by the right-wing press and various govts and often do what they can to a) make sure you stil have a job and b) ensure a good standard of living. But they are merely a pressure group - organised and run by teachers, for teachers.
    You would do well to remember it.
     
    tosh740 and (deleted member) like this.
  7. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Lead commenter

    Absolutely.
    Well said. Too many teachers moan about getting nothing out of membership while being content to put nothing in.

     
  8. b_m

    b_m New commenter

    Put nothing in? Except for the £20 quid a month you mean? If it's "mainly volunteers" where exactly is my money going??
     
  9. pancake99

    pancake99 New commenter

    Where is your money going? - conferences! My friend went to London, got her £78 train ticket paid - and her 12 yr old daughter's, got 5 star dinner and breakfast accomodation and can you believe it - a baby sitting service - all free of charge. There was no attempt to not take her daughter - she decided it would be a nice break for them and apparently any union person could have attended.
    I don't pay into a union anymore and I don't loose sleep over it either.
     
  10. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    Well in that case, I hope you never need any support and guidance if things turn out bad.
     
  11. You won't necessarily get support and guidance from a union anyway. There are a number of people on the TES boards who are currently taking their unions to court (all the main unions) for recovery of fees because they have been given incorrect legal advice. If you are only joining for legal protection don't bother, get it through your house or car insurance instead. You can then employ a solicitor who actually knows what they are talking about.
     
  12. This is very dangerous advice indeed, and I do not think it is wise.
    Employ a solicitor? How much is that going to cost exactly? What makes you think unions aren't a) experts b) able to hire solicitors on your behalf?
    Any teacher who doesn't join a union is running a very dangerous game indeed. Sadly, I know all too many teachers who have needed union support. Thankfully most had it!

     
  13. Nonsense.Sorry but I and a number of other posters will strongly disagree with you. All of us have faced serious and complex work issues mainly surrounding disability discrimination, workplace bullying and the like. Unions are most definitely NOT experts and have proved themselves, in a number of cases, to be completely out of their depth in their knowledge of employment and discrimination law. I had a union legal case worker who had less knowledge of the appropriate laws than I did in my little finger. You will not have access to a union solicitor until you reach an advanced stage of proceedings before that you case will be handled by a legal caseworker who has had union training but is not legally qualified, see my point above. An employment solicitor will advise you of all your options which a union will not, mainly because they do not have the expert legal knowledge that an employment solicitor does. I spent two years with the union ***** footing around with my case and giving me dangerous and incorrect advice, I spent an hour with a legal 500 solicitor, for free (you can often access half an hour to an hour for free) in which I was given options that had not been mentioned by the union. I now have the option of a CA three times higher than the union could get and including various other benefits including ALL legal costs (many CAs arranged by unions have legal fees capped at £350) or going forward with litigation. As for cost many people can access an employment solicitor through their house hold or sometimes car insurance. If not yes it can be costly but it can be possible to access pro bono legal advice. So dangerous game? I think not!
     
  14. One anecdote does not an argument make.

    It sounds like you were given very poor advice/support from your union and I am glad that you were able to negotiate a positive outcome in the end. However, a small sample of people who have had bad experiences does not rationalise a wholesale abandonment of teaching unions.
    Of course there are people on these boards who have had poor experiences. But the sample of people on these boards is predominately going to be people who have had a poor experience. I.e. Looking at the TES forums will provide results disproportionately skewed towards negative experiences. People who have had a positive experience are much less likely to need the support these forums provided.
    There are over 600,000 people in the NUT and NASUWT alone, the idea that all of these people should abandon their unions is laughable.
    Don't forget, unions do not just support individuals who are in dispute with their employer, they also represent the workforce as a whole, and they are the voice of teachers in discussions with government, local authorities and schools. Many of us may wish unions were more robust, and had more ability to influence government, but do you think your privately hired employment lawyer is going to negotiate with the government on your behalf regarding pensions or pay & conditions?
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. No it doesn't, but there are an ever growing number and those that are most badly let down are those with the most serious cases who arguably need support and accurate advice the most.
    I didn't say it did but let buyer beware inaccurate advice is coming from regional level and beyond if you are aware of this you can challenge it thereby assuring yourself of the best possible outcome.
    Funny I don't remember suggesting that they do. Although it might be the jolt the unions need to step up their game. My point was to give the OP another perspective.
     
  16. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    As well as claiming tax relief on this year's subscription, you can claim arrears of tax relief for the last 4 tax years.
    With the NUT you can offset two thirds of the fees against tax; with the ATL it is nine tenths of the fee that is tax deductible. Ask other Unions what fraction applies to their fees.
    Your Union will be able to give you a statement of past subs paid if you haven't kept a record.
    Claim tax relief for GTC fees paid in the past 4 tax years too and offset against tax any CRB fees that you have had to pay.
    If you have to maintain and launder something like a PE kit for work, claim a uniform allowance of £60 per year (saving you £12 in tax if you are a 20% taxpayer and £24 in tax if you are a Higher Rate taxpayer).
    Write letters to your Union magazine when you have something interesting to say on their articles, send in hints and tips or enter their crossword competitions. I had 0.3 membership, with reduced subs, over the past few years with either the NUT or the ATL and usually retrieved the amount paid with vouchers or items won from contributing comments or winning the crossword. I still have two digital car radios in their boxes from Union comp wins. Back in 1999 I won a year's subscription to TESina Union competition and then won 3 pairs of cinema tickets and a fountain pen worth £80 from winning the much missed TES crossword!
     
    tosh740 likes this.
  17. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I'd do both. Join a union and have legal cover through your home insurance.
     
  18. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    [​IMG] You really are a wise cookie, Torey.
     
  19. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I am so not worthy and bow with admiration in the shadow of your achievements! :)
     
  20. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    oh dear. You really don't understand what unions are do you?
    I refer the honourable gentleman (or lady) to the answer I gave earlier.
     

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