Trade unions have become powerful organizations with a considerable political influence. In some instances, workers are forced to join such trade unions, due to various reasons. In most instances, joining a trade union benefits the workers in many different ways. However, there are instances where joining a trade union may negatively affect the worker as well. Teachers unions are no different to most other established trade unions and this article will discuss the pros and cons of joining a teacher’s trade union in an era where trade union actions sometimes cripple the educational sector in many parts of the world.
It is highly recognized that trade unions including teachers’ trade unions are the ones which fight for the rights of their workers including their right to work, not to be expelled or deprived of their working capacity, receive a reasonable remuneration in–line with the growing cost of living, receive appropriate number of leaves, holidays, benefits, insurance, medical care, child care…etc from the governments and responsible organizations. Teachers’ trade unions also fight for the rights of students, which will affect the teaching capacity of their members. For instances, teachers trade unions will advocate the desired number of students in the classrooms and the necessary resources for teachers to perform their jobs. At times, the teachers’ trade unions will fight against authorities from depriving the students of desired number of scholarships or placements. In other instances, trade unions will help its members to retain their jobs or to remain in a place where it is convenient for them. Thus, by joining a teachers’ trade union, you will be able to take part in these struggles and benefit from the gains as a spirited community who fights for their rights and for the rights of the children.
At the same time, some teachers’ trade unions will also provide its members with concessionary loans, credit and other benefits. In certain instances, it is through the teachers’ trade unions that government seek advocacy and unless you become a member and actively engage in union actions, you may not be able to make yourself heard to those who are concerned.
While there are multiple benefits of joining a trade union, there may be instances where joining the same may cause negative effects. For instance, if extremist or radical groups govern the trade union, you may have to engage in actions, which you may not think is reasonable. Striking and depriving the schoolchildren of their learning is one instance where many teachers will not be willing to do as the first and the only method of winning the rights. In certain instances, by being a member of the union, you may be targeted by other elements, which oppose the said unions’ members. This would be more prominent when there is a rivalry between teacher groups, which hold different political opinions, and ideology. There may be other instances where the union officials will be corrupt and therefore will not allow the voice of the teachers to be hears instead will allow only the voices that they wish others to hear. Such corruption may also manifest when unions are in control of teacher placements and resource allocations. At times, educational reforms aimed at achieving higher state of proficiency may be scrapped due to demands from unions, which are not based on any scientific evidence. Thus, you as a member of such a union may indirectly contribute towards a detrimental action.
Therefore, when considering the pros and cons of joining a teachers’ trade union, it may be necessary to consider the context and decide for yourself whether the benefits outweigh the cons of joining such a union.