16 Reasons why people don’t join UNISON and how to change their minds

cropped-website-header1.jpgAs a UNISON Member you know what benefits there are through your subscription, but what if your colleagues don’t know. What if your colleagues have some misconceptions about becoming a Member?  Try using this list as a way to explain to them why being a Member of UNISON is worthwhile and ask your workplace representative for some application forms to keep in your desk to hand out.

16 Reasons why people don’t join UNISON and how to change their minds

“It’s too expensive”

  • Membership is calculated depending on your salary and can be as little as £1.30 per month.
  • It’s value for money – a premium service that offers peace of mind and security.
  • Membership costs do not automatically increase every year.
  • Membership includes free legal advice.
  • It’s not as expensive as losing your job and having no one to fight your corner.
  • We offer concessions for students.
  • Broadland Branch offers to pay Apprentice membership fees until the end of their apprenticeship.

“No-one asked me”

  •  I’m asking you now!
  • Explain that a union is only as strong as its membership. The more members we have the stronger we become the more protection we can offer.

“I’ve had a bad experience with UNISON in the past”

  • Listen to their negative experience. Steer the conversation towards a more positive outcome by asking how they would have dealt with the situation;
  • Explain that times have changed and that being part of a collective and getting involved, workplace situations can be resolved;
  • Empathise, offer support and confidentiality on any current issues.

“I can get all the benefits without joining”

  • You may be able to get certain benefits, but you’re vulnerable without proper representation at disciplinary or grievance meetings.
  • By being part of a democratic process such as consultation and negotiation, you have a voice.
  • “Freeloading” can undermine the strength of the union, which can have a negative effect on deals and agreements.

“Aren’t you affiliated to the Labour Party?”

  • Explain that all unions have a political fund. UNISON members can choose to pay a very small part of their subscriptions into the affiliated political fund (Labour Link), the general political fund, both, or neither.

“It could harm my career”

  • Your employer doesn’t need to know you’re a member and you can pay by Direct Debit rather than through your salary.
  • We have a lifelong learning agenda – learning new skills and ongoing training opportunities will help your career, not harm it.

“I’ve never needed to join”

  • The chances are that the union has already fought and won collective issues for everybody, including you;
  • The workplace is always changing by being a member, you will be represented in situations such as disciplinaries or redundancies.

“I’m an agency worker – I can’t join”

  • Agency workers can join and pay by Direct Debit.
  • We represent thousands of agency workers. (Give them a Know Your Rights leaflet for agency workers).

“What’s the point? I can’t be bothered”

  • Give examples of local and national successes, including workplace issues.
  • Go “fishing” – show an interest, ask key questions to prompt further discussion at a later date.
  • Explain UNISON’s role in the workplace, the membership benefits and why we need to increase membership numbers.

“I don’t want to go on strike”

  • A strike is a last resort and only happens if members vote in favour of action.
  • 90% of members have never been on strike because negotiation usually settles disputes.
  • Explain why it’s sometimes necessary to go on strike as part of negotiations.

“Unions don’t have any power and don’t do anything”

  • All workers’ rights have been won because of unions – paternity leave, local government pension scheme, national minimum wage, family friendly policies etc.
  • Unions are a good source of information.
  • Explain our lifelong learning agenda.

“Why bother? It’s a waste of time”

  • The union will always bother if a problem affects you;
  • If you get actively involved, you can help yourself and your colleagues – that’s a very good use of your time.

“My manager is a member”

  •  The union is inclusive so every staff member can join

“There’s no personal benefit to me”

  • Membership benefits include free legal representation, access to There For You (UNISON Welfare) and many training and development opportunities. There are also a host of exclusive member-only financial benefits and deals.

“I’m worried about management reprisals”

  • Explain the law concerning union membership giving positive examples.
  • Try and draw out their issues and give examples of how these may be resolved.
  • You’re more likely to be targeted by management if you’re not a member.
  • You’re employer doesn’t need to know that you’re a member.

“I’m too busy”


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