Why you should join the CWU

The North East Region of the Communication Workers Union

What does the CWU do?

The CWU is its membership, the people working next to you, alongside you, the CWU is the organised group of normal workers who have come together to support each other in the workplace, negotiate with the employers to improve pay, terms and conditions and ensure fair and equal treatment.

The CWU can and does provide members with first class individual advice and representation, and also offer our members opportunities for personal and professional development through our learning agenda's.

In Britain today there are almost 23 million people in paid employment. Most of them spend up to a quarter of their lives at work - longer, on average, than anywhere else in Europe.

Work can be satisfying, enjoyable and rewarding and most employers treat their workers fairly. But some do not and even the best can make mistakes. That is where unions come in. Indeed, almost every improvement in workplace conditions - for example - equal pay laws, stronger health and safety legislation and statutory redundancy pay came about following trade union activities.

On your own you cannot always defend yourself to your best advantage. Not only that - the time when you really need the expertise of a trade union is when you least expect it.

Normally life goes on as usual then, suddenly; you are faced with injustice, redundancy, injury or illness. Of course you could always turn to a friend or solicitor for advice but most people find that specialist guidance is what they need - guidance that can only come from those sufficiently experienced in dealing with industrial problems.

That is why the CWU has its own legal advisors and highly trained negotiators, people you can turn to, people you can trust to work hard on your behalf. Each year the CWU wins hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation for members, who are injured at work, are unfairly dismissed, suffer from discrimination on matters of gender or race, and many other industrial issues.

The fact is that you only enjoy the level of pay, holidays, benefits and legal rights you do because the hard fought campaigns of trade unions in the past.

Click the button below to read the full TUC report on the Union Advantage.

20 reasons to join!

Union members get paid more (TUC figures show this can be by around 17%).

Health & Safety at union workplaces is better (there are 50% less accidents in union workplaces).

Redundancies happen less in unionised workplaces; payoffs are negotiated and usually higher than where there is no union.

CWU members are covered by 24 hour accident insurance.

CWU members can be accompanied by their union representatives to grievance meetings.

CWU members can be accompanied by their union representatives to disciplinary meetings.

CWU members have access to union training and a variety of courses at Union learning centres (from computer courses to languages and vocational training).

CWU member's next of kin receive funeral benefit should the worst happen.

CWU members win millions of pounds a year in compensation claims backed by our legal team.

CWU members have access to advice, support and legal back up on work related issues.

CWU members can access legal advice on non work related issues.

The CWU campaigns nationally amongst employers, politicians and industry groups to improve working rights and legislation.

All CWU members have a voice in our democratic union and all can get involved in their branch and stand for union elections.

The CWU has thousands of trained reps who ensure that employers keep to the law at work and stick to agreements made with the company.

The CWU fights for the rights of all workers and is opposed to all forms of discrimination in and out of work.

CWU members get discounts on a range of financial services including cheap health insurance through the Communication Workers Friendly Society.

Many CWU branches offer a discounted Will making service for members.

CWU members are covered by our motor breakdown cover scheme.

The CWU backs equal treatment for part time and temporary workers.

Joining the CWU lets you join forces with hundreds of thousands of other workers and be able to speak with a stronger voice for a better working life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be sacked for joining the union?

Under UK law every worker has a right to join a trade union and it is illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their trade union membership or their trade union activities.

Will I get into trouble for joining the union?

For a start union membership is confidential and we would never divulge member's details to the company they worked for without their permission. Good employers positively encourage their employees to join trade unions because they recognise the value that trade unions bring to their company. They are happy to work with trade unions for the benefit of everyone. Bad employers may attempt to intimidate their employees and discourage them from joining. Remember - everyone has a legal right to join a trade union and the right not to be discriminated against.

Can belonging to the union stop me being promoted?

Trade unions believe in fairness and transparency not favour when it comes to promotion. We are committed to equality and we oppose discrimination. We ensure that companies do not operate a "blue eyed boy or girl" promotion system and if our members have been denied promotion due to their trade union membership we will use the law to protect our members rights.

Will I have to go on Strike?

Trade Unions are about negotiating the best deal for members through constructive dialogue and partnership with employers. Strikes are always the last resort and are actually very rare despite gaining a disproportionate amount of hostile press coverage. Furthermore, Trade unions operate in line with the relevant Employment legislation covering the UK. This legislation sets out the legal requirements that trade unions have to comply with before strike action is considered. The main requirement of the law is that all members concerned in a potential trade dispute are consulted prior to any action being taken. This is done through an individual member ballot (sometimes referred to as a secret ballot), in which every member is given the opportunity to exercise his or her democratic right to vote on the issue.

The union will not do anything?

The facts speak for themselves. Both at BT & Royal Mail not only has the CWU negotiated annual pay rises year in, year out we have also made agreements avoiding any compulsory redundancies. We have health & safety officers across our sites and represent scores of workers to grievance and disciplinary hearings on a daily basis.

Other points to consider include

Workers in union organised companies are paid on average 17% more.

Accidents at work are 50% lower

Productivity is higher

Redundancies are lower and pay out higher

Most importantly unions are democratic and accountable organisations (unlike the employers) and they only exist to serve their members. There are around 230,000 elected union representative in the UK and where they are not doing anything for their members; procedures exist for their democratic removal. Also it is trade union members who collectively decide upon the issues that are most important to them and they also decide which issues they would like to be pursued by their representatives.

Unions have never achieved anything. I work for a good employer.

Amongst the list of achievements which trade unions have campaigned for are:

National minimum wage

Improvements to Health & Safety laws

Pension protection rights

Access to training

Rights at Work

Information and Consultation rights

Equal pay

Maternity & Paternity leave

Reduced hours through the working time directive & an entitlement to holidays.

These are just a few of the many issues that trade unions have campaigned for. In reality they could have, and some would say, should have been provided by employers but despite the fact that there are some good employers, without the protection and of course the influence of trade unions, most employers will only provide their workers with the absolute minimum entitlement.

If your employer is a good employer then they have nothing to fear from trade unions. As we have previously said good employers want to work with trade unions for the benefit of the company and the workers that they employ. In fact, 42 out of the top 50 FTSE listed companies negotiate with Trade Unions. You will find that many household name companies have worked with unions for years.

My boss says that if a union gets in here he will close down and move elsewhere?

It would be economic madness for an employer to move their business just because their employees wanted to join a trade union. Some companies use this as a threat but unless the company was acting in a suicidal and irresponsible manner, then it would only be a threat. It is only companies that do not want to listen to the voice of their employees that use this type of threat. If they really want to protect their employee's interest then surely it would be better for them to work with trade union and not try to frighten and intimidate anyone who wishes to join.

Remember that scare tactics are used to try and prevent you securing proper rights. They are the tactics of the bully and are rarely translated into reality.

My employer does not recognise the union so why should I join?

The CWU fights for union recognition rights for all its members. We have a number of high profile campaigns to gain proper negotiation rights in a number of large companies; Telewest, T-Mobile, Orange, Cable & Wireless, NTL, Business Post, COLT and TSC. The CWU has and will continue to make full recognition the priority in these areas. Our branches, officers and regionally based organisers also run and back a number of campaigns in smaller companies. We are always happy to support members who want to campaign for a voice at work.

This may take time but the easiest way to achieve this is by recruiting enough members to gain automatic recognition. So the more workers that join the quicker this will be achieved.

Join CWU and become part of the biggest trade union in the communications sector.

Freephone 0800 731 7434 or e-mail joinunion@cwu.org for more information or to join now.

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Communication Workers Union