I joined a new union over the weekend, after reading about yet another school IT technician suspended from work pending the outcome of an investigation into them that they are not even allowed to be told the details of.

What this usually means is an allegation by a child, and while genuine cases do exist, they are the exceptional minority. Most cases like this are down to the increasingly and disturbingly popular trend of using such allegations as a method for pupils to exact revenge on staff who have reprimanded them.

Unions tend to have a poor reputation in the press due to the more militant unions taking unpopular or unfounded strike action. The recent postal worker strikes in the UK had scant public support, and strikes by London Underground staff make the majority of London commuters decidedly furious.

For school workers, the real strength of union membership has nothing to do with strikes, or even pay negotiations, but in the legal protection and advice you are entitled to if either a student or the school itself tries to shaft you. My opinion is that every member of school staff should be in a union if only for that reason. Think of it as career insurance. Union membership costs less per month than your broadband rental, and you do not need to have a union rep at your school to obtain assistance.

Which Union?

  • State sector: UNISON (join) or GMB (join).

    In my last school, which was in the state sector, I was a member of UNISON. Also popular amongst school staff is the GMB. Find out which one is more popular with support staff in your school and join that one.

  • Private sector: ATL (join).

    Since my move to the private sector I did not know which union to join, since the above only deal with state schools. Acting on advice found on EduGeek, I discovered that the ATL cover support and administrative staff working in private schools. I am now a member.

You can join any of these unions online by using the links above. It will take you less than 10 minutes and could one day save your reputation and career. Do it now.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

9 responses to “Unions”

  1. Dale says :

    Welcome abroad Brother Angry :-)

    “the legal protection and advice you are entitled to if either a student or the school itself tries to shaft you.”

    That’s what I tell people when I’m asked “Why should I join a union?”. Because they’re handy to have on your side in a dispute with your employer.

    In my workplace, I’m what used to be known as a shop steward. But, I don’t particularly care about the politics side of the union movement.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      I’ve never been one for union politics either. I’m there for the mutual support of other staff, not to stick to “the man”.

      UNISON are strong backers of the Labour party in the UK, which grew out of the trade union movement. However, they are well aware that many of their members are not Labour supporters, or even wish to pay for campaigning at all, and so maintain separate political campaigning funds (for both Labour-supporting campaigns and non-partisan campaigns) that members pay into voluntarily. I didn’t pay into either.

      GMB are also strong backers of the Labour party, but do not maintain voluntary campaigning funds. A portion of all members’ subscriptions goes towards political campaigning.

      ATL do engage in political campaigning but are not affiliated to any particular party.

  2. tmcd35 says :

    Hey, saw your post on Edugeek re: how much per month. Then read this blog and thought “why the hell not?”. Thank you for prompting me into doing something I should have done a long time ago. I wouldn’t mind but I’ve spent the past year walking past the ATL poster on the staff room wall thinking “I really should do something about that”.

    Can I afford £8 per month out of my wages at the moment? To be honest, no. But then that’s the wrong question. The real question is “Can I afford not to pay £8 per month out of my wages?” – that would be an even bigger no!

    I’d sooner pay out £8 per month that I can’t afford than loose my entire income over something petty.

  3. Librarian says :

    At last someone talking sense when it comes to joining a union when working in a school. Its amazing how many School Librarians across the country refuse to join a union because they can’t see why they should pay.

  4. TheCrust says :

    Another option for those who don’t want to associate with the more militant of the various unions representatives who are only intent on “sticking it to the man” (and unfortunately they do exist – I have met one or two!) there is always VOICE ( http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk ).

    This is particularly useful as an option for teaching and support staff who do not believe in strike action – but still require the protection being in a union brings.

  5. Mark says :

    This is an interesting problem. I recently found out exactly the same thing happened to my predecessor…

    However he was a union member (not sure which), they got involved, but end result was that despite a lack proof, he was forced to resign in return for the matter not being taken further and no note being made on his employment record.

    All things being equal, I think think I could have negociated an agreement like that without the hundreds he’d paid in union subs.

    Does anyone have any information about cases like this where the union has actually helped?

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