Unite’s community membership scheme brings together people from across society. Those not in paid employment, who are retired or are students are welcomed into the union family, adding another dimension to Unite’s strength across the UK and Ireland.
With over 16,000 members in 120 branches and groups, Community membership is without precedent in the British labour movement. By extending Unite’s reach and depth into marginalised communities that have been largely deserted by most politicians, and even established trade unionism, it has been part of our union’s political response to the aggressive austerity agenda of the Tories. It has helped to ensure that Unite is at the forefront of driving political, industrial and community opposition to austerity.
Community puts Unite at the heart of campaigning and activism across our nations. The level of campaigning at both a local and national level has inspired all who have engaged with it, including members and officers of Unite, colleagues from other unions and the wider labour movement as well as the general public.
Unite Community held a major national day of action against Universal Credit in December 2017. Events were held in 100 towns and cities across the UK and members engaged with thousands of people who were worried about the roll-out of the new benefit which also affects low-paid part-time workers.
The union’s exposure of the shameful working practices at Sports Direct could not have happened without Unite Community, and demonstrates how a strong and clear trade union response can protect workers and call out bad bosses.
Community members offer industrial members huge support in their struggles with employers. Community members offer high profile banner drops, picket line support, petitions, guerrilla leafleting and direct action, building community coalitions, social media, recruitment and organising and are able to ask Unite sponsored questions at company AGMs.
This level, reach and form of creative campaigning has gained kudos for Unite, generated publicity, built capacity and put Unite at the forefront of a growing social movement. This ‘movement for change’ has been instrumental in ‘reshaping politics’ across our nations, the formation of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of our Labour party.