Getting members active

UNISON is only as strong as its membership – so getting members active within the union should be a priority

It is vital to know what workplace issues concern the members so that we know what to campaign on.

This has to be in line with our aims and values (found in the UNISON rulebook) , but unless you actually know your members, you’ll only be able to guess at what they’re thinking about.

Knowing who your members are

If you’re not sure who your members are, get in touch with your branch, which should be able to supply you with a list.

Workplace mapping is a good way of finding out about your constituency. Try sketching out the department or workplaces you cover, noting down the number of your members, the number of potential members and so on.

Getting to know them

The most effective way of recruiting new members and getting them really involved is by getting to know them.

That might seem a tall order, but it is at the heart of an innovative organising method that produces great results.

This success is partly based on a passionate presentation of the union as a community – of course we represent members at the business end of their working lives, but UNISON should also be a social, fun organisation to be a part of.

Listen as well as talk

Recruiting a member is not the first and last face-to-face encounter, but the beginning of a developing relationship.

Instead of the old approach of talking at people, this changes the balance to listening to people for around 70% of the time. It really works.

Involving members

Having found out where your members are, the next step is to think about ways of involving them. It is worth identifying different means of communication so you can determine which will work best in a particular workplace.

The first responsibility of a steward is to listen to members and find out their workplace issues. You should also keep members in touch with information from the branch.

However you communicate with your members, the key thing is to encourage them to feel more involved. Not only does this mean that the branch will be better able to deal with issues, it will also be active and much better placed to retain new and existing members.