Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recruit Recruit Recruit!

There is enormous scope to recruit new members to strengthen our trade union, the better to defend workers' interests in the face of coming struggles.

Reliable figures seen by your blogger indicate for the directly employed local government workforce in Greater London an overall trade union density figure of 45%.

That means that the majority of directly employed local government employees in our capital city - who benefit from the nationally agreed conditions of service (such as the sick pay scheme) and have access to the Local Government Pension Scheme (all of these things won by decades of trade union struggle) are not members of any trade union.

Whilst it may be some consolation that across Inner London a narrow majority are trade union members, in Outer London the proportion is less than two in five.

We know what recruits members - our Union being visible and effective in defending the interests of our members and potential members. Therefore we need to mobilise our branches (using the opportunity of the Million Voices campaign and tool of the Peoples Charter) in high profile campaigns to defend and promote public services.

We need to see more of UNISON members taking action, whether that is a public protest at a Council meeting or a ballot for action to defend jobs - and we need to articulate a coherent alternative to the discourse of cuts and privatisation which is now dominant.

As so often, Barnet show the way - with the sound idea of a local manifesto for public services. UNISON cannot afford to move at the speed of our slowest elements. We need to energise our Union.

1 comment:

Carl Roper said...

Jon - you're absolutely correct!

Last year density across the whole public sector fell by nearly 2 per cent - it's now just over 57 per cent. Whilst there are a number of reasons for this it's clear that we have to do more to drive up density in the sector where on the whole unions operate in a more benign environment than unions organising mostly in the private sector.

Collective bargaining coverage in the public sector is over 80 per cent so as you say, there's a whole group of workers with whom we can speak to about the relevance of the union to their lives.

This may seem obvious but the start of this process has to be in actually asking people to join the union. There are some 3 million non-members in UNIONISED workplaces and some research recently undertaken for the TUC estimated that TWO THIRDS of these people have never been asked to join.

The TUC has a range of support that it offers to unions and in particular reps to increase their ability to build membership - particularly the TUC Activist Academy. More details at www.tuc.org.uk/activistacademy