From the TUC

The Organising Academy ten years on

22 Oct 2008, By

As regular readers of this blog (shout out to all 3 of you by the way!) will know, last week we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the TUC Organising Academy. Here’s a photo to prove it!

Let them eat cake!

Let them eat cake! (photo: Rod Leon)

More seriously one of the things which has characterised the work of the Organising Academy is that we’ve always been serious about having its work properly – and independently – evaluated. I can’t think of many other union inititiatives here in the UK or indeed more widely which have been subjected to as much ‘public’ probing and questioning as the Academy, but ultimately that’s a good thing.

Ed Heery and his colleagues at Cardiff Business School were the initial academic advisers to the TUC’s New Unionism project and undertook the ‘first 5 years’ evaluation of the Academy, and latterly Mel Simms and Jane Holgate have taken up this work. Mel and Jane’s ’10 year review’ can now be found on the TUC web-site. The evaluation isn’t all roses and sweetness and light – for example the review pulls out issues around career progression for organisers and the problems associated with separating out organising and broader representational roles. But overall I think it fairly concludes that while there is ‘still much work to be done’:

In launching the Organising Academy in 1998, the TUC’s intention was to create an impetus for change. Its aim was to promote organising as central to union activity and the mechanism by which unions could grow and regain their influence with employers and government. It also wanted to encourage unions to allocate resources to union activity and to employ specialist organisers to take this agenda forward. It was a bold initiative as some were sceptical that a centralised programme – organised by the TUC – would have sufficient backing to make it work. Yet, testing the outcomes after 10 years against the original aims and objectives, the project has clearly had a degree of success – not least the spread of organising programmes within other unions.

Let us know what you think of their assessment in the comments section.