Some clarification on members wanting help with issues that predate their membership

We survive because people join to be informed about what's going on, to have a say in advancing or in protecting conditions and as a form of insurance in a fairly hostile and unpredictable political and employment environment.

The insurance aspect is like insuring anything. You insure it in case you have an accident, or someone breaks into your house or it burns down and you know you can't ring up an insurer, tell them that you always meant to be insured and that you support insurance, pay for the next 12 months and then make a claim retrospectively. It would be unusual to think otherwise but sometimes we do see people wanting action on things that happened three years ago.

But people do join unions hoping that the union can do things for them that predate their membership. Whoops, I just got my third warning, or the grievance I filed myself has been rejected, I'll join the union for help.

We have been flexible about this. We are soft when it comes to helping people at work and we've been prepared in the past to have new members make a financial contribution equivalent to what might seem like a reasonable period of membership, sometimes two years for big issues, but no longer.

It is an unsustainable business model for a voluntary organisation like a union to have people join when they need the services, rather than being a member all the time. It should be looked at more like the principles of an insurance policy.

The Committee of Management considered a recent experience and has now resolved a firm policy that depa will not provide retrospective services. Those of you who are long-term and loyal members would expect nothing less because you are the financial backbone of the organisation upon which we rely for survival.

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