When we join a union, we gain a voice in decisions that affect our jobs, our future and our families. Unfortunately, management don’t always like the idea of sharing decision-making with their employees.
They will often make false statments to dissuade you from getting organised.
Knowing what to expect from management will help us all to stay focused on our real aim –having a voice at work and a say in our future.
This is what mangement often says when workers join a union:
Management: “A union is a third party that will come between us.”
Fact: We are the Union: we work in this employment. We are not outsiders and our aim is to improve the terms and conditions of employment for our members while working with management to ensure the success of the company.
Management: “Unions will make you go on strike.”
Fact: This is completely untrue. SIPTU is a democratic, member-run organisation. The affairs of the Union in each employment are run by the members in that employment. They take decisions by majority vote. The full-time officials of the Union do not get to vote.
Even then, work stoppages are very rare in Ireland and have been in a steady decline in recent years. Unions work to help – not hinder – our members to make a living.
Management: “If you join a union, you risk losing the benefits and pay rates you already have.”
Fact: It is illegal for employers to cut or freeze your pay just because you have joined a union
Once organised current wages and benefits can be locked in and then negotiate improvements from there. Everybody gets a chance to consider any proposals before they are voted on.
Management: “The union just wants your money.”
Fact: Every serious organisation has to have some kind of funding. Churches, clubs, sporting leagues and charities all need to be financed and unions are no different. Your contribution will help fund the cost of forming a Union Section and training of activists to work to improve your pay and conditions. Your contribution will also help you to pursue any grievance and disciplinary issues, health and safety or equality matters and ensure your rights at work and other areas so that no one has to go it alone.
Management: “With a union, you won’t be allowed to talk to your supervisor. You’ll have to go through the union.”
Fact: SIPTU members have found that being in a union strengthens communication between employees and supervisors. Direct relationships with immediate supervisors will continue, and we will work to retain any good policies already in place.
Management: “The improvements we are willing to make now show that you don’t need a union.”
Fact: Even mean-minded managements can suddenly become very generous when they hear that their employees might be joining a union. Of course, their aim is to prevent workers from joining up. But just think, if they are prepared to go this far before we get organised, how much further would they go if we got organised properly.
By pressing on, we can make sure that any concessions from management are permanent. We’ll build an on-going dialogue with management on all our issues. We’ll also have peace of mind by being in a union because the gains we win will be guaranteed in a formal agreement with the union.
Management: “Unions are just another business. All they care about is selling themselves.”
Fact: Unions are a social movement committed to improving the conditions of working people in all areas of life. A union needs funds to operate – but it’s not a business. It doesn’t pay dividends to shareholders or make huge profits for a tiny elite. The money contributed to union funds the organisation’s campaigns and activities on behalf of the members and their families.
Remember it’s normal for some tension to arise when workers start to build a union, but this is only temporary. Management will soon adjust to dealing with workers with decency and respect.
Your right to join a union is guaranteed by the Irish Constitution