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Monday, 5 December 2011

Unite the union opens up to the unemployed and marginalised

Less than one week after the biggest strike in generations, the country’s biggest union is launching a new membership scheme to ensure those pushed to the margins of society can benefit from collective power.

Unite’s new community membership will offer the unemployed, students and all those not in employment the opportunity to become part of one of the most powerful forces for equality in the country. For just 50p per week, community members will have access to financial and legal expertise, as well as the support of up to one and a half million fellow members when standing up for their local services.

Community members will be developed as community activists, bringing together people across their locality who have felt left down or excluded by politics to ensure that they too have a voice at a time of economic turmoil and social change for the nation.

Launching the scheme, Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey said:

“This scheme could transform trade unionism in the UK. It comes at a time when horrific cuts and ideological social changes are pushing more and more people to the margins.

“Last week we had the mass action by public servants fighting for pensions justice. Only 24 hours before that, the Chancellor told the country that under his government the attacks on the incomes and services of the ordinary people of this country will continue until 2017. This is a government of the few.

“These are terrible times for ordinary people, but we want to send them a message of hope. So we say now to the millions unemployed, including the young people wasted on the dole and worried for their future, in Unite you have a home. Our mission is your mission – fairness, dignity, respect and strong communities.

“It is time now for those on the margins to organise, to come together to challenge the decisions made by the elite in the interests of the few. This is the real Big Society - ordinary people organising for themselves - in action.”

The Unite community membership is available to students, the unemployed and all others not in work for whatever reason costing just 50p a week. The scheme offers members a range of financial benefits and services, including a legal advice helpline, a welfare benefits check-up, debt counselling, assistance with CVs, application forms, and interviews and hardship grants.

For information on the scheme email: community@unitetheunion.org or call the Community Membership information line 0333 240 9798 (calls chargeable at normal landline rates) or visit http://www.unitetheunion.org/community



I think this is excellent newsws and opens the way for students, unemployed and those on low incomes to join a union and get involved in trade unions and the labour movement.

Its about time this kind of scheme is rolled out. In the 80's i understand there were similar ideas during the struggles over the poll tax for people to organise in anti poll tax unions. This is a similar idea but gives ordinary working class people a voice if not in work.

I have heard many critisisms of trade unions from people being hurt by the cuts saying the unions will only defend those in work and dont care about the disabled, students or any of us who dont work. This move by Unite is a step forward and aims to reach those people who claim trade unions are not for everyone.

Trade unions can be for all and united and organised we can win. As N30 showed the collective power of the organised working class can win and together we are stronger for it.

As a comrade informed me at a recent jarrow march meeting if this does take off it would only require trade unionists standing for elections and we have a new workers party by default. This idea is one step from forming that new workers party.

This is why i'm really encouraged by this move by unite gets ordinary peoples voices heard and hopefully can shift this union into action in opposing all cuts not just some cuts which is the current labour line.

The mass of people joining i would also hope in dragging Unite away from labour and their "too far too fast" line on cuts. The more we organise and get involved the greater our voice.

Telling others that we must oppose all cuts and not a single cut is needed and popularising that idea will be a great step forward.

So i welcoem this idea and hope many people take up unites very reasonable offer.

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