Unite the Union launches cut price student rate. Bring on the Big Society.

The Guardian reported yesterday that Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union, has just launched a new cut price rate for students and the unemployed of 50p a week in an aim to bring some of those most badly affected by the cuts into the union movement.

Kudos to Len McClusky, the left-wing leader of Unite who has proved a match for the Tory government since coming in six months ago. I’ve been a Unite member for just a few weeks, and though like seemingly every other group at the minute there’s been a few membership problems (the Green Party for a start), the new rate looks like a good step towards sorting it out.

I have my criticisms of course. Unite’s online membership at the moment is shambolic – it’s a nightmare to join online and when you have there is often little confirmation to say you’ve successfully joined. If that isn’t off-putting to students, I don’t know what it. Moreover, the Unite student site hasn’t been updated for months, and the members section of the unions main site is currently down. Without sorting this out, the problems of a non-unionised student workforce will remain.

Getting students and the unemployed on board has to be one of the most important hurdles in fighting the cuts as well as fighting for workers rights in an increasingly casualised, “hire-or-fire” labour market.

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