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IER Conference Wednesday, 27 th March 2013 ORGANISING AGAINST AUSTERITY Kevan Nelson UNISON NW Regional Secretary ORGANISING AGAINST AUSTERITY Kevan Nelson.

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Presentation on theme: "IER Conference Wednesday, 27 th March 2013 ORGANISING AGAINST AUSTERITY Kevan Nelson UNISON NW Regional Secretary ORGANISING AGAINST AUSTERITY Kevan Nelson."— Presentation transcript:

1 IER Conference Wednesday, 27 th March 2013 ORGANISING AGAINST AUSTERITY Kevan Nelson UNISON NW Regional Secretary ORGANISING AGAINST AUSTERITY Kevan Nelson UNISON NW Regional Secretary

2 Nature of the Problem Threats to union organisation in public sector  Cuts agenda – redundancy and redeployment  Outsourcing, privatisation and marketisation  Attack on facility time  Generational change – membership concentrated in older workers and lack of awareness among younger workers Organisation centred in specific sites – some sites with no UNISON presence Loss of experienced stewards through retirement and/or redundancy Some branches dependent on small number of stewards – overstretched and overworked High levels of case-work - limited time to devote to wider organising activities Increasingly passive relationships between members and branches – gap between membership and activists

3 Objectives & Aspirations Increased density - key goal but not sustainable without stronger organisation Identification, recruitment and development of contacts and new shop stewards This would underpin sustainable gains in membership density in the medium to long-term Creation of a more active membership – encouraging members to take greater responsibility for representing their own interests.

4 Key Challenges Barriers to recruiting and developing stewards were cited  Fear that new activists will be targeted by management for unfair treatment  Time commitment and workload involved in representative duties is a deterrent  Limited availability of facility time. Developing workplace representatives is a slow and incremental process – need for patience Increasing and maintaining the visibility of the union in the workplace was crucial Expectations and communication between organising teams and branches Nature and selection of targets – employer attitude, access and union presence Availability of information – mapping

5 Early Progress and Achievements – June 2012 Development of detailed maps of union organisation within the targets Activities of local organisers have boosted the visibility of the union and started to create a sense of re-engagement with the union Over 1,200 one-to-one conversations between local organisers and workers conducted in the first quarter 215 new members were recruited Teams had begun to identify, recruit and develop potential ‘leaders’ and shop stewards  7 new stewards  Over 70 potential leaders  Workplace contacts established some sites with no previous union presence. Progress in improving communication and setting out clear working methods – protocol for recruitment and training of stewards

6 Early Lessons and Key Issues The need for an organising approach  Recruitment creates expectations of union action  Without stewards service provision is undermined  Servicing without organising is unsustainable  Organising around issues alone? Focus of organising  Target selection represents a strategic choice  Organising from a position of strength or extending into new areas?  Need for organisation remains in workplaces and organisation where union traditionally strong

7 Early Lessons and Key Issues Key success factors  ‘Right place, right time’ – confluence of issues  Large workplaces – easier to map  Positive employer attitude – access and resources  Organisers on site – existing organisation to build on Branch involvement – negotiating relationships  Need for branches to be involved in design phase  Role of organisers needs to be clear from the outset  Clear processes for recruitment and training of representatives  Need for flexibility on both sides

8 March 2013 Outcomes Update Phase 1. 3 Projects. 11 Target Employers. -1,065 New Members -99 New Stewards Appointed -166 Workplace contacts / Potential Stewards

9 Lessons Learnt Update – March 2013 Projects confirmed our understanding of what works – ie Use of mapping info to target dedicated resources & 1-1 organising activity around collective workplace issues. Use of issue based organising approach requires a degree of flexibility to re-focus priorities & re-deploy organisers as issues arise in other target areas. Staff & Activists working in partnership to deliver clear objectives. Direct membership recruitment by organisers was most successful in areas of shift work outside of “office hours”. Workers appreciated the visit and unlike day workers had often never been approached. Fewer Management meant more space for 1-1 conversations. Although membership recruitment fell slightly short of target, steward recruitment was significantly over target. Stewards were easier to recruit than anticipated when they were offered clearly defined local level constituencies of around members.

10 Cont’d/... Lessons Learnt Update – March 2013 The Union now has to ensure the effective integration of new activists into existing structures and deliver on the commitment to train, develop and support to ensure sustainability of improved workplace organisation and membership levels. Will require significant ongoing commitment at branch and regional level. _______________________________________________ QUESTIONS


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