Rachel Dobbs on Trade Unions
Rachel Dobbs shares a range of useful tools and resources from the perspective of a serial freelancer.
As times get increasingly tough (after ten years of austerity and cuts with no end in sight), I would also encourage you (and your friends and colleagues) to join and become an active member of a relevant trade union with a track record of taking on case work and actively engaging in collective bargaining. If you work at a university or in post-16 education, join the University and College Union (UCU). If you are a freelance designer, architect, gallery worker, artist, curator, intern or art educator, join UVW’s Design & Culture Workers branch. (They are currently working mainly in London, but with increased members in the SW we can make it work here, too.) If you are a specialist worker in museums, heritage or arts organisations (full-time, part-time, freelance and consultancy), join Prospect. If you work in non-performance roles in broadcasting, film and cinema, digital media, independent production, leisure, IT and telecoms or theatre and the arts, join BECTU.
Trade unions are owned and run by their members, who work together to negotiate your pay and conditions, influence employers and government on your behalf, campaign for better quality jobs and standards, and offer legal support and training to help you organise collectively and achieve change. Counter to the 1980s myth, trade unions are NOT DEAD, they are standing up for workers all across the UK – check out each of the above unions' websites to see the successes they have achieved via their campaigns.