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A union for Christmas – and for life

Unite Glasgow Retired Members’ branch encourages young people into the union with Christmas gift membership
Hajera Blagg, Friday, December 6th, 2019

At a time when environmentally sustainability is at the top of the public agenda, people across the UK are aiming to have a more thoughtful, less wasteful Christmas.


The figures now are dire — the UK produces 30 per cent more waste during the festive period, with an estimated £700m spent on unwanted Christmas gifts. In 2017 alone, it was estimated that 114,000 tonnes of plastic waste would be thrown away unrecycled at Christmas. The average child receives 16 Christmas gifts, many of which are no doubt destined for the landfill.


So this year, why not give a gift that keeps on giving, one that’s not just for Christmas but for life?


That’s precisely what branch secretary Mick Rice and his Unite Glasgow Retired Members’ branch have aimed to do this year – by gifting a Unite membership.


Now, anyone with a loved who believes they’d benefit from union membership can order one online. The recipient will receive a Christmas card (pictured below) explaining their gift and how they can activate their free, one-year membership.




“The recipient will not have to pay anything as you have already paid when you bought the Christmas card,” Mick explained. “Cards cost £30 each. As the membership fee is £28.50, the real cost of the card is only £1.50.”


The offer is only applicable to people who are 16 or over and are unemployed, students or retired, since those in work pay different membership dues.


For Mick, the idea behind the Unite Christmas card was to encourage more young people in particular to join a union.


“I have two children in university right now and over the summer for example they’ll take occasional temporary jobs in bars and restaurants,” he explained. “I thought, they really could do with the support of the union, just as the union could do with young people’s enthusiasm.”


Thanks to the support of both the Unite Glasgow Retired Members and the union’s Glasgow and Lanarkshire Community, Youth Work and Not for Profit branches, Mick’s Christmas gift idea for his own children can be yours too.


The hope too is that local Unite branches will purchase the Christmas cards and distribute them through their young members committees.


The Unite Christmas card is only the latest project for Mick’s branch, which he says is particularly active.


“We’ve got more than 4,000 members in our Retired Members Branch with scores attending meetings each and every month,” he said. “We’re particularly proud of our electronic communications – we send out electronic newsletters and we’ve got a website and a Facebook page too.”


Mick also told UniteLive of the branch’s Union Song Club, which meets every month in local venues such as pubs in Glasgow. Members practice union songs that span decades and will often go out to perform on picket lines and demos to lend their support industrially.


A Union Song Club website developed by branch members themselves serves as a repository for dozens of YouTube videos of the songs they sing so that other local Union Song Clubs can benefit. They’ve even created karaoke videos from the lyrics, too.


For Mick, this sort of creativity is the key to recruiting more members, and is what motivates and drives his branch.


“We’re also particularly enthusiastic about supporting young people,” he added as he highlighted a number of campaigns in hospitality that the branch has supported.


“As retired members we’ve got a lot of empathy for the younger generation, who face insecure work such as zero-hours contracts in a way that we never had to at their age. These young people are really struggling in the world of work today and that’s why they need the union more than ever.


“And of course, the union needs young people just as much too. They are our future; without them the union will die.”


In the run-up to the festive season, Mick has one message for Unite members.


“If we want to attract more people into the union movement, we have to make it about enjoyment, about creativity and simple fun,” he said. “So I urge Unite members this Christmas, more than anything, have some fun!”


You can order your Unite Christmas card and union gift membership here.


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