Is it time for an LXP Union?

Have you heard of an Lived Experience Professional winning a tribunal for discrimination at work? Have you even heard of an LXP taking their employer to a tribunal for discrimination at work? There may be a reason for that.

Lived Experience Professions currently do not have their own union to offer protection at work. Obviously, like any other employees, we can join any of the unions currently available if we fit their membership criteria. This is often an issue for people who are self employed – which is many of us. However, even those of us who are in a union seem to be unhappy with the service we receive. Cases of discrimination are usually not supported by legal teams and we are left high and dry at tribunals… which never happen. Refer back to the opening paragraph. Its also tough and a very excruciating experience to go through for anyone, let alone someone who is managing a mental health condition. Many people settle. Organisations obviously attempt to palm them off with the smallest settlement possible. There is no research that can be slipped in here to confirm the appalling service we get. Only personal experience and conversations with colleagues lamenting their own. 

The conversations are not just with colleagues, however. Leadership teams from within service user led organisations acknowledge this. There has been at least one attempt to set up a union. However, a union is a big undertaking. Who has got the time, or the energy? How is something set up that supports everyone? How do people on very low income afford the fees? What about self employed people? What about the training of union reps? The legal side? 

How would the union itself is actually a good employer to its own Lived Experience Professionals, leading by example?  An organisation cannot help others unless it can help itself, and just because an organisation is Lived Experience led, does not automatically make it a good employer to Lived Experience employees. It is the insight from that experience and embedding of that learning into practice that is the work we do, and we need to be able to do it ourselves to help ourselves. It is hard work.

Setting up a union may be something that is out of reach in the present – maybe we need our own collaborative, pressure group and/or working with an existing union to have our own division within a larger umbrella. At the very least to educate lawyers and national/regional decision makers – who ultimately decide whether they will or will not represent us at tribunal – why it is so important that some of these cases are brought to court and that awareness is made of the issues that LXPs face. The discrimination cannot be addressed until people see it. Presently it is invisible. Unions used to stick up for workers rights, change legislation and address discrimination in a much more proactive way when this was needed in the past. They need to step up for some of their most vulnerable members now – many of whom will fit in several intersections of marginalisation and been impacted by trauma.

This blog is acknowledging the need, but asking how we fill the gap. It is a discussion we need to have on a wider, national level… then somehow… make it happen.

Published by LXPRevolution


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