Recruiting new members

Why is recruitment so important?

We don’t just want to maintain our existing membership – we want to grow and we need to grow. The more members we have, the stronger we are. A workplace with 90% membership is in a much stronger position to resist an unwelcome management proposal than one with 60% membership.

Organising to maintain and strengthen our voice means engaging members and recruiting your colleagues who are not in the union – all reps have the ability to do this.

The branches that are most effective at recruiting have two obvious characteristics:

  • they see recruitment as a task for everybody – not just certain reps, or even all reps, but all members
  • they have a high profile in the workplace: their activities, local communications and the respect in which they are held by management as well as staff mean they are central to working life in that area.

Get money for recruiting new members

Our Member recruit Member scheme rewards those who persuade their colleagues to join the union. For every new colleague recruited, members can choose a £10 shopping voucher or make a donation to charity.
Find out more about Member Recruit Member

Why should people join?

If you ask someone why they are not in a trade union, the most common answer is that they have never been asked. Another frequent response is that the union isn’t effective in their workplace. As a Prospect rep you can help overcome both these concerns by focusing on the good things that Prospect does:

1. We provide expert, independent advice when you need it

As a Prospect member, you can access one-to-one employment law, contract and workplace advice at any time throughout your career.

2. We can negotiate your pay, terms and conditions

If we have enough members in one workplace, we will negotiate with the employer to get a better deal for everyone. We can also help individuals who might have an equal pay claim – for example where men are paid more than women for the same work.

3. We support your career

Prospect offers training, mentoring, networking and the opportunity to have a voice in your industry. With more than 157,000 members, we can connect you to other successful people in your field.

4. We save you money

Prospect provides financial discounts to members that can more than cover the cost of your annual subscription. These include university discounts, collective energy switching, a free 24-hour legal line, free financial advice, insurance deals and much more.

5. We pay your legal fees if you have a good case

Your legal fees will be paid in full if you have a good case for representation in a court or employment tribunal – for example, if you’re unfairly made redundant, fired, or discriminated against. This includes the cost of counsel to represent you where required (subject to Prospect’s terms and conditions for legal support).

What are the reasons for people not joining a trade union and why are they wrong?

There are a number of reasons people give for having not yet joined a trade union. Let’s look at some of them:

‘I can get all the benefits without joining’

You may get a tiny proportion of the benefits, mainly to do with collective bargaining, but you won’t get a voice in those negotiations. You will also miss out on a huge range of other benefits, including proper representation at disciplinary or grievance meetings, which leaves you vulnerable.

By being part of a democratic process, such as consultation and negotiation, you have a voice.

The more members we have, the stronger we become and the more protection we can offer. ‘Freeloading’ can undermine the strength of the union, which can have a negative effect on deals and agreements – it doesn’t help anyone.

‘I’m a freelance/seasonal/contract worker, so I can’t join’

Yes, you can! We represent thousands of freelance, contract and seasonal workers across a range of industries, from archaeology to theatre and from broadcasting to science. For freelancers and the self-employed, there has never been a more important time to join a union.

‘It won’t make a difference’

All workers’ rights have been won because of unions – think the weekend, national minimum wage, annual leave, family-friendly policies, health and safety rights etc.

This year, unions have been at the forefront of ensuring workers get a fair deal during the pandemic, whether that be through the furlough scheme or a safe return to workplaces. Clearly, there’s more to do – but it’s unthinkable where we’d be without unions.

‘I’m too busy’

You can join online in just a few minutes.

Also, if you get actively involved, you can help yourself and your colleagues – that’s a very good use of your time.

‘It’s too expensive’

Times are tough right now, but our membership subscription is calculated depending on your salary and can be as little as £1.35 a month. We offer concessions for students.

It’s value for money – a premium service that offers peace of mind and security. It’s not as expensive as losing your job and having no-one to fight your corner. Membership includes free legal advice.

Many members think of it as the price of a cup of coffee each week.

‘Aren’t you affiliated to the Labour party?’

No – we’re not affiliated to any political party. The only people we answer to are our members. We are, however, politically active and campaign at the highest levels to protect our members and their industries.

‘I don’t want to go on strike’

At Prospect we see a strike as a last resort and it only happens if members vote in favour of action and the union’s National Executive Committee approves it.

Around 90% of our members have never been on strike, because negotiation usually settles disputes. But sometimes it can be worth going on strike to get a better deal, like our members at the Science Museum Group did successfully last year.

‘I’ve had a bad experience with unions in the past’

We’re here to ensure that workplace situations can be resolved by being part of our collective. We want to know what we can do to make your experience of unions better. We’re working to make sure you have a good experience of being a Prospect member so, hopefully, we’ll help improve your experience of unions.

‘It could harm my career’

Learning new skills, meeting and talking to managers and having access to training opportunities will help your career, not harm it. Lots of our members have cited how being part of the union has helped them get promotions or new jobs.

‘I’m worried about management reprisals’

Everybody has the right to join a union. You’re actually more likely to be targeted by management if you’re not a union member. Anyhow, your employer doesn’t even need to know that you’re a member.

‘My manager is a member’

The union is inclusive so every staff member can join. If you ever had a dispute with your manager, the union would find different reps for each of you to ensure that you received a fair and unbiased outcome.

‘No-one asked me!’

Well, we’re asking you now! Will you join Prospect today? 

Questions about recruiting new members?

There are a variety of ways our organisers can help you recruit new members with help, advice and support.
Get in touch with your organiser