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National Delegate Conference 17-20 June 2008

Recruit, organise and deliver support to activists

John Stevenson
John Stevenson

Conference laid out six-point strategy for organisation and recruitment, the lifeblood of the union.

Recruitment campaigns will be built into all branch activities, and resources will be provided. UNISON will ensure participation in induction programmes, make better use of 'new starters' lists, join in the 'One Step Ahead' programme to help reps build their skills and seek recognition in unorganised employers.

An Edinburgh amendment stressed the need for support for nuts and bolts representational activity. The quality of representation is a major issue in whether members join the union or recommend the union to others.

Edinburgh's John Stevenson underlined the need for support for that ‘nuts and bolts' work of the union. "There is no better way to recruit a new member than by word of mouth from a fellow worker who has something to thank the union for", he told Conference.

Activists faced many challenges in recruiting and retaining members. "The reality of cuts and privatisation, the reality of losers in Single Status, the reality of a much more litigious society where formal grievances and disciplinaries are taking the place of sensible dialogue. The motion is right that recruitment should be at the heart of everything we do and it should also be there in service conditions representation and in campaigning for action", added John.

"Of course we don't want skilled and experienced staff bogged down doing a steward's job", said John. But neither did we want a structure that loses sight of the shop floor. Activists neded support in complex representation and negotiating issues.

He praised the 'real commitment' in Scotland to lay involvement and the partnership between full time and lay officials in Scotland. "But that partnership needs to be backed by a strategy and the resources to deliver support when it is needed", he said.

Recruitment and retention would be delivered by "a union that listens, a union you can participate in and most of all, a union that can deliver the quality representation and negotiation when you need it", he added.