From the TUC

Suppporting reps to build stronger unions

01 Sep 2008, By

Their are over 200,000 trade union reps and activists in the UK and for the members in the workplaces in which they are active it is they, not union General Secretarys or full-time officers who are the face of the union.  Reps and the work that they do are vital to both the interests of their members and the future success of the movement.

But the job of being a union reps is getting busier and more difficult. The number of reps is declining, meaning that the number of members that reps support and represent is increasing.  Reps also face pressure from hostile managers and report increasing difficulty in securing sufficient facility time and time off for training.

Given that there are over 3 million workers in unionised workplaces that AREN’T members of trade unions and recent reasearch commissioned by the TUC suggests that around 2 million of these haven’t even been asked to join a union.

Stats such as these demonstrate the impact that reps and activists can make in increasing union membership, but care needs ton be taken to ensure that they sufficient support and resources in doing this and that organising and recruitment isn’t seen as just another job that already hard pressed and under resourced reps are being asked to do.

Supporting reps in organising and recruitment activity will be one of the main focuses of the work of the Organising and Recruitment team over the next year.  The Activist Academy is being launched at Congress and there will be more work around the Bargaining to Organise campaign, amongst other things.

To kick things off, the TUC has just published a new guide – ORGANISING AT WORK: BUILDING STRONGER UNIONS IN THE WORKPLACE – to help workplace union reps and activists reaffirm, rebuild and revitalise the union where they work.  The guide contains a range of ideas to help build union strength, improve the unions relevance and effectiveness and get more members involved in union activity.

The guide can be downloaded here.