Friday thought: Why join a union? Let me count the ways...

1. Get help if you have a problem at work 
If you feel you've not been treated fairly, or are facing difficulties at work, ask your local UNISON branch for advice. If you're facing a disciplinary hearing or need support at work, we can help. Our local reps draw on the combined knowledge and experience of the whole of UNISON. We can work with you to find a solution.

2. Have a say in how to improve things in your workplace 
UNISON is also there to try to make work a better place. If you have ideas about how to improve work - from better lighting in the car park to more flexible working hours - UNISON gives you a voice. Working together, our collective strength means we can talk with your employer to try to improve things.

3. Make savings on top of this 
Helping you at work is our main concern. But there are lots of other benefits that you are entitled to - cheaper holidays and insurance, financial services, a UNISON credit card, and vehicle breakdown cover. UNISON welfare, our own registered charity provides support for UNISON members and dependants at times of special need.

4. Undervalued?
You earn more in a unionised workplace
Average earnings are higher in unionised workplaces. UNISON stands up for your rights as a higher education worker to a fair wage and a decent standard of living. If you're a member, you'll get a say in the claims we put forward to your employers.

5. Deserve a break?
You get more annual leave in a unionised workplace
The average trade union member in the UK gets over 25% more annual leave a year, compared with a non-unionised worker. This is because trade unions like UNISON have fought a better working life on behalf of members.

6. At risk?
You're less likely to be injured in a unionised workplace
All employers have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace, but the union has trained health and safety officers to make sure employers stick to their legal obligations.

If you get injured at work, UNISON will help you pursue a case for compensation from your employer. Unions won over £321 million in compensation for people who were injured or became ill at work in 2000.

UNISON successfully fought for increased compensation for nursery nurse, Lisa Potts, who was seriously injured while protecting children in her care from a horrific machete attack. "I'd only just become a member. Funny enough one of the other nursery nurses said I should join in case anything ever happens," recalls Lisa, who was only 21 when the attack happened. "I'm so glad I filled in those forms. Without UNISON it would have been very difficult for me, especially legally. I'm always telling people they should join a union."

We've also helped people involved in more commonplace accidents. Only last year Norman Thurrell, an ambulance worker, received £140,000 as compensation when he lost his job as the result of a serious back injury.

7. Moving on?
You get more and better training
Workers in unionised workplaces are more likely to receive job-related training. Since 1994 UNISON has reached agreements with employers to pay for courses and give paid time off for employees to attend them.

"The UNISON leaflet for the Return to Learn course came through my door at the right moment," says Pauline Jones, an Occupational Therapy (OT) Assistant in West Yorkshire. "I've recently become a single parent with young children, and now I'm the main breadwinner I want to set things up for when they're older. Eventually I want to take on a Senior Clinical OT role in the health service. But it's a bit daunting going back into studying - I left school at 16 and I haven't done any studying since. This course has given me that bit more confidence. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone." As a result of the Return to Learn course, Pauline now feels ready to take the next step on her career path.

8. Time to adjust?
You get more maternity leave, paternal and carer leave
Unionised workplaces are much more likely to have maternity, paternal and carer leave policies in place which are more generous than the statutory minimum. UNISON can negotiate better leave policies at local level and help you achieve a better work/life balance.

9. No respect?
You're less likely to be discriminated against in a unionised workplace
UNISON campaigns against all forms of discrimination - including age, disability, race, gender, sexual orientation. We have successfully led the campaign for tougher anti-discrimination laws being introduced in the workplace.

10. Keep public services public 
UNISON continues to work to protect all our public services, including schools, colleges and universities from all forms of privitisation, including PFI, cuts and contracting out.

Our members are the people who provide the services the public depends on. We have succeeded in winning pay and employment protections for staff transferred to the private sector. We work to improve the working conditions of our members within the public sector. Join us in our campaign to keep services public and strengthen the voice of public sector workers.