Your Trade Union and Organising

What does ‘organising’ mean to you?

In Question
Maeve O’Neill works as a physiotherapist in the Western Trust, NI

If you give me a fish, you have fed me for a day. If you teach me to fish, you have fed me until the river is contaminated, or the shoreline seized for development.

But if you teach me to organise, then whatever the challenge, I can join together with my peers and we will fashion our own solution.

Many of the struggles we face as workers or in society are structural, or systemic. When we challenge these systems as individuals, the odds are stacked against us. 

When we join together, our voice becomes stronger. Peer support is essential in whatever struggle you’re in.

Why did you attend Organising for Power?

I wanted to bring organising into my workplace. Many of the issues faced by co-workers during the Covid-19 pandemic have had systemic similarities, and with the crisis in the NHS I felt it important to build organising skills so that our workforce is prepared for whatever challenges come our way.

What did you learn?

I was blown away by the energy of union organisers from across the globe, and the similarities workers from different sectors face in terms of workplace challenges. It helped me believe in the power of organised unions to make real, systemic change. There were excellent examples of union campaigns that were successful because of organising strategies.

How will you organise as a rep?

One of the most pressing issues affecting members is pay. To secure a fair pay increase for health and social care workers, we need to be well organised. The government will not give us the pay rise we deserve without a powerful, strategic campaign.

Maeve recently joined with other workplace representatives to attend Organising for Power.

Led by Jane McAlevey and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, this training course brought together over 10,000 organisers worldwide to learn about building collective power, and methods of engaging trade union members.


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