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Unions

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atochopefull

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I’ve not read much on here about the rail unions. Which is the best, what services and protection do they offer, what is the subscription and is it worth it? Thanks
 
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AntoniC

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Think of them as an insurance policy you hope never to claim on.
I have been a Civil Servant for 30 + years and have needed Union help 4 times (one was a Gross Misconduct Charge about 10 years ago).
In my humble opinion they are worth the £10/mth it costs me, but only you can decide if its worth it for you.
I would recommend you join.
 

LCC106

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Grade means role. If it’s driver, the majority go with ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Enginemen and Firemen). For other roles, RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport workers). Driver Managers tend to be in TSSA (Transport Salaried Staff Association).
 

atochopefull

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Doing what though?

In general life, im not pro union, but as a driver, I'll always be in ASLEF. Just for that extra bit of cover if poop and fan collide.
Conductor. Seems RMT could be the way to go?

Think of them as an insurance policy you hope never to claim on.
I have been a Civil Servant for 30 + years and have needed Union help 4 times (one was a Gross Misconduct Charge about 10 years ago).
In my humble opinion they are worth the £10/mth it costs me, but only you can decide if its worth it for you.
I would recommend you join.
Thanks. Do you have experience of a rail union?
 

High Dyke

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Conductor = rmt. Worth every penny for peace of mind.
As was mentioned earlier, it will depend on your job role. Certain unions will be the lead union with bargaining rights for your job role; whilst other may be a part of your employers agreed bargaining procedure. In a general sense a trade union will represent you in the following areas:
  • Better Pay
  • Improved conditions
  • Workplace representation
  • Health and Safety protection
  • Full range of membership benefits
  • Legal cover - workplace and criminal for you and your family
  • Credit Union (may vary with different unions)
As mentioned above. It's an insurance policy you hope to never claim on.
 

4F89

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859
As was mentioned earlier, it will depend on your job role. Certain unions will be the lead union with bargaining rights for your job role; whilst other may be a part of your employers agreed bargaining procedure. In a general sense a trade union will represent you in the following areas:
  • Better Pay
  • Improved conditions
  • Workplace representation
  • Health and Safety protection
  • Full range of membership benefits
  • Legal cover - workplace and criminal for you and your family
  • Credit Union (may vary with different unions)
As mentioned above. It's an insurance policy you hope to never claim on.
I'm not sure why you are quoting me there, I'm not the OP
 
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PupCuff

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Aye, as a conductor (or pretty much any other frontline staff other than many ticket office folks) you'd be looking to join the RMT. I used to be in the RMT, decent union, wish they'd steer clear of politics and write their press releases a bit more professionally but otherwise can't moan. There's no requirement to join the union, but to be honest even these days it's not uncommon in some quarters you're likely to be looked at unfavourably by colleagues if you don't.

Drivers join ASLEF, aside from a few who are RMT, and management grades (plus ticket office staff) join TSSA.

Some new starters worry about joining the union as they think their gaffer will look down on them or treat them less favourably over it, in reality it's a unionised workplace so the automatic assumption will be that a new starter will join the union and the managers will most likely be in a union themselves too.

On a local level, the trade unions can support members through disciplinaries, appeals, welfare meetings, individual risk assessments, basically any situation where the employee might benefit from another person to be a witness to proceedings and where necessary fight their corner. Typically the union also has access to legal services and suchlike for work-related issues and sometimes for outside work too.

Outside of the 'individual' side of things, the unions work with the company on pay talks for grades covered by collective bargaining arrangements (and generally those outside collective bargaining too), for frontline staff they either create the roster themselves or work closely with management to make it as suitable as possible, appoint Health and Safety Representatives who undertake H&S walkabouts in their workplace alongside management and are often involved in other safety related activities such as risk assessments and sometimes things like accident investigations too.

A good union/management relationship is a real positive for a company and it's really good to see when the two sides bash their heads together and come up with a sensible, practical solution to a problem. Unfortunately in the industry the reality is that there are some union side people who hate management and some management side people who hate the unions. Luckily, though it does rear its head occasionally, on the whole (certainly in my corner of the railway anyway) the relationship is generally good.
 

atochopefull

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19 Oct 2015
Messages
210
Aye, as a conductor (or pretty much any other frontline staff other than many ticket office folks) you'd be looking to join the RMT. I used to be in the RMT, decent union, wish they'd steer clear of politics and write their press releases a bit more professionally but otherwise can't moan. There's no requirement to join the union, but to be honest even these days it's not uncommon in some quarters you're likely to be looked at unfavourably by colleagues if you don't.

Drivers join ASLEF, aside from a few who are RMT, and management grades (plus ticket office staff) join TSSA.

Some new starters worry about joining the union as they think their gaffer will look down on them or treat them less favourably over it, in reality it's a unionised workplace so the automatic assumption will be that a new starter will join the union and the managers will most likely be in a union themselves too.

On a local level, the trade unions can support members through disciplinaries, appeals, welfare meetings, individual risk assessments, basically any situation where the employee might benefit from another person to be a witness to proceedings and where necessary fight their corner. Typically the union also has access to legal services and suchlike for work-related issues and sometimes for outside work too.

Outside of the 'individual' side of things, the unions work with the company on pay talks for grades covered by collective bargaining arrangements (and generally those outside collective bargaining too), for frontline staff they either create the roster themselves or work closely with management to make it as suitable as possible, appoint Health and Safety Representatives who undertake H&S walkabouts in their workplace alongside management and are often involved in other safety related activities such as risk assessments and sometimes things like accident investigations too.

A good union/management relationship is a real positive for a company and it's really good to see when the two sides bash their heads together and come up with a sensible, practical solution to a problem. Unfortunately in the industry the reality is that there are some union side people who hate management and some management side people who hate the unions. Luckily, though it does rear its head occasionally, on the whole (certainly in my corner of the railway anyway) the relationship is generally good.
Thanks so much for your reply, it’s really helpful. Do you have any idea what the subs might be for RMT?

Always worth joining a union, in any walk of life because of the reasons listed by @High Dyke amongst others.
Thank you.

As was mentioned earlier, it will depend on your job role. Certain unions will be the lead union with bargaining rights for your job role; whilst other may be a part of your employers agreed bargaining procedure. In a general sense a trade union will represent you in the following areas:
  • Better Pay
  • Improved conditions
  • Workplace representation
  • Health and Safety protection
  • Full range of membership benefits
  • Legal cover - workplace and criminal for you and your family
  • Credit Union (may vary with different unions)
As mentioned above. It's an insurance policy you hope to never claim on.
Thanks for your reply. Really useful.

Conductor = rmt. Worth every penny for peace of mind.
Thanks.
 

Bald Rick

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Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
28,347
Thanks so much for your reply, it’s really helpful. Do you have any idea what the subs might be for RMT?

Subs are the equivalent of about £275 a year, which is paid in ‘instalments’ weekly, 4 weekly or monthly; unless you earn less than £22,900pa when it is a lower rate. But I don’t think many conductors do earn less than this!

As everybody above has recommended joining, I think it’s only right that someone offers an alternative view.

In my near 30 year career I have never been a union member, and that was from starting right at the bottom of the organisation, albeit mostly in an office environment, not traincrew. In that time I have had 3 occasions when someone who was in a union might have had cause to use it: twice when placed at risk of redundancy, and a third which I won’t talk about. In all three cases the company acted entirely reasonably, looked after me properly, and I didn’t feel the need for union representation. Indeed in one case I’m sure it would have made matters worse. Some people may say that I have been lucky; I don’t think so. I’ve seen exactly the same with my employer and other rail sector employers when dealing with similar situations.

In my experience, the union representatives are a mixed bag. Some are good, and the best are brilliant. Many are not. I have seen far too many reps who claim to be representing their members, but actually are representing either themselves, their mates, or what they’ve be told to by the union leadership (or sometimes their political friends), without reference to the people they represent.

I’ve also heard a clear majority of union members say - as many have above - that they treat membership as an ‘insurance policy’ in case they screw up. That’s fair enough, and up to the individual to decide if that is a ‘policy’ worth buying. I decided it wasn’t.

Do be aware that if your union is in dispute with your employer and calls industrial action, you will be instructed by the union to comply with the terms of the action, regardless of whether you agree with the dispute or not. This could cost you financially in terms of lost pay or other benefits. Also be aware that the RMT and other unions are political organisations; they are affiliated and contribute financially to political parties, the policies of which you may or may not agree with. It is surprising how many union members that I have talked to don’t know this.

I do fully support the principle of unions, and feel strongly that anyone should be able to choose to join one. I also feel strongly that no one should be disadvantaged by not joining. If you do choose to join, do be aware of what it actually entails.
 

oz220

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29 Oct 2017
Messages
64
Ive asked myself the question about unions many times and this is what my conclusion was;

I immediately joined a union upon joining the railway as it was highly encouraged.

I looked at the union and sometimes disagreed with their actions and/or approach.

I looked at the company I work for and felt on the whole they treated their employees very fairly.

However I’ll continue to be a member of a union for as long as I can for the following reasons.

I remember working for previous companies and in different industries where there was no union membership, and to be honest they often completely abused their power and was only interested in money and not safety or employees. I always felt that my colleagues were often mistreated but no one ever had the knowledge or ability to fight/argue for there rights. Although I don’t believe the TOC I work for are like this I do fear that if there was no unions then within a few years things would not be like they are now.

So my opinion it’s best to join a union. Be vocal, if you wish, about there drawbacks but be supportive of there overall aims.

The unions are far from perfect but I worry what our industry would be like without them.

as for the previous posts statement about industrial action. It’s true that you will be asked to strike if the members are balloted and strike action is agreed. I have no issue with this. I’ve voted against strike against previous but a majority of my colleagues voted for it so I was prepared to stick by the majority even if I don’t agree. Although in the end strike action was diverted due to an agreement by union and company. There are now new laws in place which mean the unions must meet a certain criteria to be able to strike. And in my short time in the industry I’ve still never had to strike.
 
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Efini92

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14 Dec 2016
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There’s always going to be negative opinion on some actions of the union/reps.
The bottom line is, what has attracted you to the job? The answer is nearly always the pay and conditions. Being part of a union is what got those pay and conditions. The companies didn’t just hand them out for nothing.
 

greatkingrat

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Do be aware that if your union is in dispute with your employer and calls industrial action, you will be instructed by the union to comply with the terms of the action, regardless of whether you agree with the dispute or not. This could cost you financially in terms of lost pay or other benefits. Also be aware that the RMT and other unions are political organisations; they are affiliated and contribute financially to political parties, the policies of which you may or may not agree with. It is surprising how many union members that I have talked to don’t know this.

It is worth noting that any union member is able to opt out of the political fund if they do not wish to contribute to a political party.
 

Llama

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It is worth noting that only a fraction of the political fund goes to the affiliated party - the rest of it is usually used for campaigning, membership subs to organisations and other donations that may fall within the remit of political use.

What is also worth mentioning is that unions usually operate an appeals process for members who fall by the wayside - let's say you suffered a debilitating illness at work and eventually ended up on no pay (sick pay at our firm for established employees is six months full pay, six months half pay, then you're down to SSP) - the union might organise an appeal for you, basically a whip-round of all the branches of that union. A cheque on the door mat for several grand once that's been done might make a huge difference to your family.
 

Bald Rick

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What is also worth mentioning is that unions usually operate an appeals process for members who fall by the wayside - let's say you suffered a debilitating illness at work and eventually ended up on no pay (sick pay at our firm for established employees is six months full pay, six months half pay, then you're down to SSP) - the union might organise an appeal for you, basically a whip-round of all the branches of that union. A cheque on the door mat for several grand once that's been done might make a huge difference to your family.

Of the reasons to join a union, I wouldn’t regard that as one. That the union ‘might’ arrange a collection of a few thousand pounds doesn’t feel sufficient.

There is a market for this type of insurance - it’s called crtitical illness insurance. For someone starting out on their career (say aged 25), you could get £50k of cover for about a fiver a month; and that would guarantee to pay out.
 

Driver068

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With the option to opt out of the political fund, has this ever been known to go against the individual by the union or fellow members, or is it the case they would not know.

Interested to know if there is a stigma attached to this approach.
 

Lewlew

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With the option to opt out of the political fund, has this ever been known to go against the individual by the union or fellow members, or is it the case they would not know.

Interested to know if there is a stigma attached to this approach.
The local team shouldn't know, it's purely a head office matter.
 

Gloster

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I doubt if it would have any practical effect, particularly nowadays. I opted out early in my time on the railway and never heard anything. (I opted out because I considered the then Labour Party as insufficiently radical - I still do.)

In addition to the fact that the union has helped to negotiate the conditions which make the railway acceptable to you as a workplace and will, hopefully, continue to provide you with acceptable conditions, it is an insurance policy. Like house insurance, you probably won’t need it, but if you do, you really do need it.
 

StaffsPM1

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I know of a depot that would not let drivers join ASLEF unless they ticked the political fund box. I thought that was dodgy to say the least but it did happen.
 

the sniper

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With the option to opt out of the political fund, has this ever been known to go against the individual by the union or fellow members, or is it the case they would not know.

Interested to know if there is a stigma attached to this approach.

Free and easy to opt out. Local level wouldn't even know if you had opted out. In the case of ASLEF, they'd only know of opting out if done on joining as your application has to go via the Branch. I doubt the vast majority would care at Local level.

Affiliation and with who has been the matter of many lively branch meeting debates. Most far left characters I know wouldn't give Labour the money.
 

StaffsPM1

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yes this is what I thought to, but the local level ASLEF would not consider any new starters application unless that box was ticked....
 

the sniper

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yes this is what I thought to, but the local level ASLEF would not consider any new starters application unless that box was ticked....

Possible I suppose, though a bit silly as you can just opt out straight after. I could imagine a Branch Secretary strongly encouraging it off their own back. Joining ASLEF is different to the RMT or TSSA, in that your application goes via the Branch for endorsement. It's not a formality that you'll get in, particularly if you're an internal joining the Driving grade and you've previously managed to upset enough of your colleagues with your poor character/shenanigans... Though the Branch can be overridden by the General Secretary/Executive Committee.
 

StaffsPM1

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When I joined I didn't tick the box and yes, the sec badgered me for a bit about it but accepted that I didn't want to do.
Not that I am against politics but I want all my sub to go to ASLEF and call me selfish but I want as much going to looking after me and the stuff that directly affects me and my colleagues.
 

Driver068

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Where does the additional fee go. Does the member have a choice or would the extra funds go into ASLEFs coffers.

Do you as a member have a say, ie charity of choice?
 
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