Recruiting members: our No 1 priority

UNISON is running a major recruitment campaign and going for growth. After years of austerity and job losses, now is the time to grow together.

We are keen for the union to represent the tens of thousands of workers who are currently non-members and, as such, have no defence against the government’s attack on their jobs.

In many workplaces, we’re 50% unionised. – we should be 100% unionised. And UNISON will do everything in our power to help its activists achieve that.

“We need to strengthen the union,” says general secretary Dave Prentis. “We need to make sure that the activists are supported and we need to make sure that our members and potential members know that UNISON is there for them”

Around 700,000 jobs have been lost in areas where UNISON represents workers the past since the start of austerity. But there are still large pockets of people who have never joined a union – and they need the kind of support UNISON can offer, now more than ever.

Membership has fallen since 2010, but the fall is small compared to the number of jobs that have gone, and that’s because of all the hard work that the union and our activists have done during that period.

“We’ve never recruited more,” says Dave. “But what we’re seeking to do is increase our rate of recruitment further, to step up the activity.

“Our activists are doing a tremendous job, but they are on the front line and we know the pressure they are under.

“That’s why we’re them the tools, the levers and the support  – which will enable them to recruit far more easily.

“We want to simplify the way in which people join our union, to make it easy for them, and to strengthen our branches through doing that.

“We want to ensure that non-members know what we can provide, whether it be help when you need it at work, our out-of-hours helpline, legal services, or membership services.”

“Our people turn to us to help. And we’ve got to be there for them.

“So it’s important that we, as their union, are strong. To be a strong union you have to have growing membership, you’ve got to speak on behalf of the whole workforce, not just a small part of it. There’s no doubt that unions are stronger where they’ve got a high density of members.

“If we want to be a powerful voice for our members, it is imperative that we speak for the majority of the workforce.”


“This is about making the union strong. Public service workers turn to us for help. And we’ve got to be there for them.”
Dave Prentis, general secretary


Useful tips on starting conversations

  • Introduce yourself and find out about the worker and their workplace: “How long have you been working here?”; “What is your job/role?”.
  • Identify issues. Start by using general questions and then narrow the focus: “How are things going here at work?”; “What has changed here recently/over the last…?”; “What would you change if you could?”
  • If you are already aware of an issue, use this to open up the conversation: “Are you worried about…”; “What is happening about…”; “How do you think you and your workmates could be affected by…”.