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Unions: more than conference controversy

Reading Ed Dorrell's editorial, "Unions, you're in a hole. Better stop digging" (13 April), one is struck with a sense of deja vu. Every year, it's the same - editorials in TES or elsewhere bemoaning the militancy of the Easter union conference-fest and calling for union unity. However, those who argue in favour of one union overlook a number of important points.

There are ideological differences. Voice, the union for education professionals, does not take industrial action, while others favour such tactics. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their national unions and are represented by some of the England-based unions. However, in Scotland, there is one dominant player - the EIS - and that can make it difficult for other voices to be heard in negotiations because of the EIS' ability to outvote all other parties.

Unions are about more than conference controversy. Away from the spotlight that such events attract, they advise, help, represent, inform their members and negotiate on their behalf.

Big isn't necessarily beautiful. Not everybody wants to be part of a monolithic organisation. Diversity is to be welcomed.

Philip Parkin, General secretary, Voice: the union for education professionals.

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