A Bristol UCU member writes:
Until recently I was a union member in quite an unthinking way. My Dad worked for a union all his life, and drilled into me his principle that ‘you insure your car, your home, so why not the most important thing of all – your job?’. When I started working I joined the union automatically. I had a vague sense that I had a generous maternity provision, and that, within the sector, my salary was higher than others – but I became truly aware of the value of having a strong, active union when my department was subject to a restructure and I became part of a redundancy pool.
During that time, I leant heavily on the union for counsel, comfort and knowhow. It meant having someone to attend meetings with, who understood the law, could offer sound advice, and make practical suggestions. I had the feeling that a range of different avenues were being pursued: some of which might never have occurred to me. When you’re going through redundancy selection, it is reassuring to know that everything is being done properly and fairly, and to feel that you’re not alone. At Bristol, we’re lucky enough to have a healthy recognition agreement with our employer; it seems madness not to make the most of it.
After that time, I decided to become a rep; I felt very motivated to return the support and encouragement that I had received, and to give back to others something that had made such a difference to me.