engage magazine issue 001 spring \'06 - Page 60

60 NETWORKING Rights of Association Joining a union? Is this a contradiction - or common sense? Doesn’t the desire for collective action work against those who want to use the freedom of the marketplace to improve their living standards? Actually, both are often true as many workers who either want to set up on their own or go into partnership find that the biggest problems with succeeding are the same as when they worked for someone else: big business and dealing with government departments. This is something that most unions have had much success in dealing with over the past 100 years. There are plenty of trades which have long traditions of practitioners being either self-employed or owning small businesses. The TUC’s own research has shown that many unions enjoy strong membership from self-employed and small businesses in fields as diverse as lorry driving, architecture, accounting, medicine, design, journalism, the theatre, film making, writing, building trades and engineering. So what is the attraction, compared with joining a trade association or professional body such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants? While there are some good trade associations around, many of them are little more than talking shops or a means of giving the appearances of respectability. Membership of a professional body will usually require candidates to pass entrance exams following years of study. There are professional societies who do offer good dispute resolution services. For example, the Institute for the Management of Information Systems has successfully suppo