3. Recruitment/membership

The growth of the DIWU was usually the most pressing issue at Union meetings. We wracked our brains thinking of ways to recruit and retain more members. During its brief lifetime over two hundred couriers got involved with the union to a greater or lesser extent, although only half a dozen consistently kept it ticking over.

Attendance at meetings, which was vital to keep a level of democracy, accountability and dynamism, varied from thirty down to a despondent two. But to put this into perspective, most trade unions in Britain only get a handful of people showing up for meetings even though their branch may consist of hundred or thousands of members. So the DIWU was doing as well, or better, than most trade unions manage. to say that an organisation such as the DIWU, which was supposed to be promoting equality between men and women, could not sponsor an event that would be seen as sexist. The reality was, if we had social events with strippers the union’s popularity would probably have soared.

In the early days we had big discussions and mental wrangling whether or not to advertise public events and meetings in case the bosses, grasses or even fascists came along. When people wrote to the union we asked for their name, address, firm and job so that we had the option to check them out beforehand if they sounded fishy. In hindsight we were probably over cautious, with the result that many couriers complained that it took too long to get hold of people from the Union when a problem arose.

The only time we know that ‘anonymity’ came in useful was when Westminster Council sent the ‘heavy mob’ to Hackney Trade Union Support Unit (TUSU) from where we collected our mail. The council lackeys arrived and started throwing their weight about attempting to put the frighteners on because the DIWU had stickers plastered all over central London including on council property. But the TUSU staff are not to be trifled with ‘and fucked them off.’