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Monday 11 February 2019

Why I HeartUnions

By Muneera Lula

To mark HeartUnions week, fast streamer Muneera Lula talks about what the trade union movement means to her.

By the time I edged myself into the working world, after a 21 year stint of incubation in the education system, I was incredibly aware that collectivism and power in numbers were important concepts. I was lucky enough to have studied history at university and the only parts of historical narratives that really stick with me are the ideas of mass movement, and of change by collectives. I had never believed that it was the men on podiums who change the world*, and I certainly didn’t believe that they cared very much about me. So finding a union for myself seemed like a totally logical step when I was a working adult.

I grew up in a tightly knit community in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, that took care of each other. I thought of unions as essentially the same for workplaces. My own workplace is a million miles away from where my parents earned a living (a post office and a petrol station) but I know that even at a desk in Whitehall having someone in your corner – someone who will help pick you up when there is an issue – is so important.

I care deeply about the work I do and about my ability to be good at my job. Being in a union allows me to worry a little less about the things that can get in the way of that. My colleagues and fellow workers are people I care about: they do a great job and deserve fair and reasonable working conditions, and I think being part of an organisation that actively works towards that is incredibly important. Being a union rep and sitting on a committee isn’t a hindrance to my full-time job: it allows me to do it efficiently and to feel that I am able to support my colleagues in working effectively.

Sometimes people ask if unionism has become redundant. They say we have all of the orthopaedic chairs and annual leave we could ever need. But with an ever-changing workplace, with growing demands on employees to produce more in less time, and with tools that age quickly, constant vigilance seems more important than ever. We must continue to protect our rights and seek to improve our conditions. We need to support each other, and support our union.

Comradery and community always. I <3 unions!

Muneera Lela is the FDA Fast Stream Section's Equalities Officer and a union rep.  

*Nothing against these men – lots of my favourite colleagues do just this!

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