The Guardian newspaper is collecting opinions about trade unions for their 'Anywhere but Westminster' film, there were a couple of posts about my union, UCU which is is the Universities and Colleges Union. (UCU is the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK http://www.ucu.org.uk/ )
The posts went something like this: "UCU doesn't do anything," "UCU has NUS style debates instead of doing proper work," and "the C in UCU stands for crap."
I was pretty much infuriated and a little bit apprehensive, my apprehension was for the following reason. This sort of attitude will kill trade unionism. It is more dangerous that the anti trade union laws brought in by the Thatcher government and this is why: If that attitude is allowed to permeate a workplace then new staff won't join and cynical staff will leave the union. The outcome is simple; a de-unionised workforce that is open to exploitation.
The 'union does nothing attitude' is an attitude with which I am very familiar, I find it in my conversations with some colleagues whenever they find out I am a rep. My reply to those colleagues is similar to the one I wrote to Guardian forum users:
You are the Union, do something about it... Join UCU