For years, greenkeeping circles have debated the idea of forming and/or joining a trade union to increase their legal protection at work, and to keep up the fight for better wages and conditions from their employers. Such debates can often be polarised, with very few people "sitting on the fence".
The Independent Greenkeepers Association (IGA) has not only participated in this debate, but has taken the steps to link up with established national trade union the GMB to create regional union branches and a national section for greenkeepers within the union.
IGA member Matthew McLean stated that "although some people were sceptical towards the idea of joining a trade union, we believe it is only fair to offer people the choice when they wish to take a step towards protecting themselves at work."
"Those who do not wish to join a union will have nothing to worry about, we respect this decision and we are not going to try and force anyone to join. But we hope this same respect will be shown for the many greenkeepers who require union representation. This is also the first step towards taking some of the strain off of Ian MacMillan's back, the GMB will help us to train more officials in basic employment law, which means we have more manpower to attend the grievances and disciplinary meetings faced by our members in the future."
The IGA's Education and Law officer Ian MacMillan had pointed out that the most watertight and legitimate manner in which to conduct the legal representation was through the union. "Everyone from the airline pilot to the university lecturer is represented by their union. With greenkeepers playing an integral role in the essential maintenance of one of this countries greatest exports, our golf courses, we feel strongly about offering greenkeepers the choice to join a trade union for maximum protection at work"
"The main benefits to union membership purports to total representation in disciplinary and court proceedings, and what's more - the right of entry for a union official to a disciplinary or grievance is never an option!" explained MacMillan. It is clear that a union offers protection in areas that non-union organisations cannot, and this is something that will be welcomed by many greenkeepers throughout the country, not as a act of aggression but as a sign of greater job security and fairness.
Gregor Gall, Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Hertfordshire also took time to welcome the move, stating that "Greenkeepers, like any other group of workers, need collective organisation to represent their interests at work. This is a matter of social and economic justice. They are to be congratulated on taking the initiative to create such an organisation. In linking up with the GMB union, greenkeepers will be able to benefit from the experience the GMB has in helping represent quite particular types of workers whilst at the same time maintaining their distinct occupational identities. I wish the greenkeepers and the GMB well in this new, bold and exciting project"
The establishment of GMB regional greenkeepers branches, and a GMB greenkeepers section will see strong relations forged between the association and the union. Recruitment will start with immediate effect and membership can be obtained for £2.30 per week (Grade 1), or £1.23 per week (Grade 2) if you are under 18 or working part time (under 20 hours).
Some of the membership benefits are as follows.
Dispute or lock-out pay (per week)
Grade 1 = £50.00 Grade 2 = £25.00
Accident or assault at work causing absence of 3 weeks or more (per week)
Grade 1 = £9.25 Grade 2 = £4.00
Total disablement caused by an accident at work
Grade 1 = £4,000 Grade 2 = £2,000
Fatal accident at work
Grade 1 = £4,000 Grade 2 = £2,000
Fatal accident outside work
Grade 1 = £1,100 Grade 2 = £550.00
Funeral grant up to
Grade 1 = £130.00 Grade 2 = £58.00
Those who wish to join the GMB can do so on their website www.gmb.org.uk - alternatively you can contact Matthew McLean at email@example.com to arrange an application form to be posted to you. You can also write to the national office at
22/24 Worple Road
Or you can contact them by telephone on 020 8947 3131