Why do I need to be a member of a union as well as a professional association?

By NUBSLI | Published on 7 December 2015

A union and a professional association support you and your profession in different ways.

Role of professional associations

The focus of a Professional Association is aimed more generally at offering a supportive environment to its members and maintaining the standards within the BSL interpreting profession.

  • to encourage good practice in sign language interpreting
  • to work in collaboration with other organisations within the field, to benefit the profession as a whole

Professional Associations will work to establish best practice, networking and CPD opportunities, to name but a few. In addition, they often do a lot of work representing members and the profession, meeting and advising external organisations. Your Professional Association is valuable to support you in maintaining and enhancing your practice.

Role of a union

The focus of a Union is that of workers’ rights: safeguarding the profession and individual members from threats to erode fair and appropriate working conditions.

A Union’s key aims are:

  • representing the workers’ interests and protecting their rights, such as job security, standards of working conditions and quality of life
  • establishing effective relationships with key influencers, including Government
  • fighting for fairness

With a good strong membership the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) will provide the opportunity for the BSL interpreting profession to have a powerful collective voice, to be recognised and heard in negotiations. With the backing of legal advice, support and representation from Unite, NUBSLI can campaign and galvanise organised action if necessary.

NUBSLI, your union, has more strength as a lobbying and negotiating entity. As a branch of Unite, the largest Union in the UK, it has the backing of an organisation with a long history of successfully getting the Government to sit up and pay attention.

The two types of organisations have distinct and valuable areas of focus and different capabilities, so a decision to choose one over the other might jeopardise the sustainability of the BSL interpreting profession. Join NUBSLI today and be part of that collective.

Mariella is a qualified British Sign Language interpreter and joint Equalities Officer at NUBSLI.