From the TUC

Union reps are good citizens -NEW REPORT

08 May 2009, By

Trade union reps are eight times more likely than the general population to engage in voluntary work and give more of their time to community organisations according to a report published today by the TUC.

Unions in the community : a survey of union reps shows that union reps are heavily involved in campaigning and activities beyond the workplace. The research was carried out for the TUC by Gregor Gall, Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Hertfordshire.

Given their activities in organisations outside work, the TUC report says there is potential for unions to build on the similarities they have with community organisations and use these links to recruit new members and develop new cross-organisation community campaigns which unions in Australia and America have deployed so successfully in the past.

Unions in the Community: A survey of union reps found that eight per cent of reps are school governors, and five per cent trustees or sat on the governing bodies of local organisations. Some 19 per cent are volunteers in local community organisations like sports or social clubs, and 20 per cent of reps spend up to five hours on community activities a week.

Tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment were the top issues that union reps were actively engaged in outside work, closely followed by wanting to improve the quality of public services, and fighting racism and preventing the spread of the far right.

Asked about their faith, of the 27 per cent who described themselves as religious, 84 per cent said that there was a definite link between their religious faith and their union activities, citing shared values such as compassion, justice and respect. One of the reps quoted said, ‘My faith…taught me to stand against injustice and speak out for those unable to speak for themselves’.

Nearly three-quarters of the reps questioned also thought that unions could be doing more to boost their role in the community further, as a means both of raising their profile and encouraging more young people to become members.

It was also noted that trade councils were under-utilised by union reps and the scope for further engagement with these should be explored.

Definately worth a read! Let me know what you think!