Get members to recruit

One of the most vital jobs of a steward is to recruit new members. UNISON has a much greater influence with local management and employers in organised workplaces with a high density of union membership.

Members have a stronger sense of confidence and ability to change things. And there is a much higher chance of winning recognition in non-recognised workplaces.

A stronger union

Such workplaces mean UNISON will have greater clout with employers and other unions.

They will have more stewards, safety representatives and workplace contacts who run the union locally and make sure the branch is truly representative.

‘Nobody asked me’

The biggest reason people give for not joining a union is: “Nobody asked me”.

And the best people to recruit new members are the UNISON members working alongside them.

Successful recruiters can influence non-members to join when the union is seen to be active, has credibility, organises in a workplace and actively contacts potential members on a regular basis.

The organising approach

The organising approach is where we encourage members to organise and take the lead themselves.

A number of projects have shown that this approach works very well in recruiting.

Benefits of membership

UNISON runs high profile advertising campaigns backed up by local staff and activists to let potential members know the essential cover at work UNISON provides, including legal help, financial assistance, a helpline, accident and injury compensation and exclusive member discounts. Members can tell other members about these benefits.

A recent UNISON advertising recruitment campaign saw branches, staff volunteers and activists take a simple message out into workplaces across the UK – now is the time to join UNISON. And it worked – there was a 44% increase in recruitment over the same period last year.


North Devon NHS Trust

An organising approach saw union membership among workers on a privatised cleaning contract jump from 45 in June 2009 to 200 at the end of the year – which allowed them to win a battle for better pay and improved terms in line with the Agenda for Change national agreement, after a successful strike.

The key is to get members and potential members to come together and discuss issues – and what they can do to address them in UNISON.

The branch and existing activists, alongside the union’s organising staff, can provide support, help and advice, but it is ordinary members who can be most effective in recruitment – and in keeping each other together as a strong part of the union after that initial recruitment.

Best recruiters

Like recruits like.

This is a well-known saying in union circles, and for a very good reason.

The best people to recruit new members are existing members – who also gain by being in a stronger union.

This is a key part of UNISON’s organising approach.