Why you were glad to be in Prospect in 2020

17 December 2020

A few weeks ago, we launched a Thoughtexchange, a crowdsourcing platform for the sharing of opinions and ideas, on why you were glad to be a Prospect member this year. Here’s what you told us.

Key word graphic from the Thoughtexchange

We believe that trade union membership is, of course, valuable at the best of times, but this year it was, perhaps, essential.

2020 will forever be remembered as the year of a deadly global pandemic, which wreaked havoc on the economy and brought our lives to standstill.

Prospect, and other trade unions, helped the chancellor design the furlough scheme and we haven’t stopped fighting for the rights of freelancers and the self-employed.

As the year draws to a close, we wanted to know what you valued the most out of being a Prospect member.

The Thoughtexchange alone cannot claim to be scientific or exhaustive but, as participants are able to rate each other’s thoughts, it offers a snapshot not just into the range of opinions – but which ones are most widely shared.

We had over 230 individual thoughts and more than 3,100 ratings for those thoughts; each thought could be rated 1 to 5 stars.

Participants represented a broad cross section of Prospect too. All our membership areas were well represented: from IT & telecoms to energy; from heritage to science; environment and public service; defence to education services.

Working through a pandemic

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 crisis loomed large in the comments, even if was the subtext to a wider point, such as underlining the importance of health and safety, wellbeing, job security or helping members to stay informed.

“Prospect has worked so hard to keep members safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Workers are the foundation of every organisation and the economy; if they are not able to work safely the knock-on effects can be massive.”

“Prospect has been extremely supportive and informative during this pandemic, especially during the initial lockdown and furlough. That was important because it was a very stressful and overwhelmingly uncertain time.”

“Email communications throughout lockdown Prospect have made me feel included & supported through the pandemic.”

Legal protection and expert support

While the pandemic dominated the year, many of the most popular thoughts related to timeless trade union benefits: legal protection and support from expert full-time officers, whether that be in pensions, health and safety or negotiating terms and conditions.

Many of you appreciated that we are an independent ally in the workplace; that we are informed of the issues and a trusted partner that you can rely always on in difficult circumstances.

“Prospect is a great source of expertise. There’s been much to know about employment conditions, H&S at work etc. Prospect has people who know all this stuff – and they work for me!”

“For fair and proper interpretation of employment law. With no backing, employers are more likely to divide and conquer.”

“I feel that I have people who are on my side and can understand my point of view. I do not feel alone or fighting a battle on my own but I feel supported.”

“I have been a member for nearly 40 years and always felt it gave me a level of employee protection, we need to feel safe and secure in our employment and know we have someone to turn to, should we need support.”

“My Prospect representative during discussions re: Voluntary Redundancy secured me an additional three months’ notice pay that I forgot/was unaware of due to legacy T&C’s.”

“A friend and colleague won a discrimination case against the MOD. It would not have happened without Prospect. It showed the MOD that we must be treated fairly.”

“It’s an extra source of information… It means I can access information about the workplace which isn’t only from my employer’s perspective, so I have more balanced info to make decisions.”

Peace of mind and strength in numbers

Another recurring theme was the value of Prospect membership for the peace of mind that it offers. Many participants in the Thoughtexchange compared their membership to an insurance policy.

As well as peace of mind, another comment sentiment spoke to the strength in numbers’ argument, or in union jargon, collective voice. Being in a union means that you are never on your own.

“In these very uncertain times, it’s reassuring to know there is an umbrella of support if it’s needed. It’s an insurance policy in an uncertain world. In these weird times it’s good to have some consistency and something to rely on. It’s comforting to know they are there.”

“Peace of mind that I would have some help and assistance should I have any trouble with employer and/or pension. Having a formal body to represent me”.

“A collective voice is a strong voice. A lone voice is an echo which drifts away with the breeze.”

“I am glad to be part of a wider community, with people with similar issues. Stronger in numbers.”

“Unions are needed more than ever to maintain working conditions, job security, a decent pension and decent pay.”

“Always glad to have Prospect in ‘my back pocket’ Provides a level of confidence that I can address anything at work correctly and with support.”

Rebuilding the economy

With a vaccine on the horizon, thoughts are already turning to how the economy can be rebuilt, and many members expect Prospect to use its leadership to ensure that it’s not just rebuilt but built better and fairer.

“I heard Mike Clancy speak on a podcast and thought he articulated a clear and progressive need for unions, without position taking, he was pragmatic. With the diversification of the economy, and more people working outside of large organisations, we need unions that can respond to the future economy.”

“Prospect will provide rational and balanced views on how to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic without unfair pay restraints. We’ll all be willing to pull in our belts a little but I have no confidence that the current government will want to spread the load fairly.”

“In uncertain economic times, especially this one fuelled by a pandemic, I am relieved to be in a union. It’s important because employers can take advantage of the situation to weaken grey areas in contracts to the employees’ disadvantage.”

Prospect in 2021 and beyond

There also other thoughts where members pointed out the value of our training courses, learning opportunities, the information and resources in our library, our live webinars and our specialist LGBT+, BAME and Environment networks.

So, why were Prospect members glad to have been a member in 2020? All of the above.

We know that further challenges lie ahead in 2021 and we’ll be supporting our members every step of the way.