Organising in the Community and Voluntary Sector

Back to all Motions

2004 National Delegate Conference
2 March 2004
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that substantial progress has been made in recent years in improving UNISON’s membership base and organisation in the community and voluntary sector.

At the end of 2003 UNISON membership in this sector had reached in excess of 42,000, a 40 per cent increase since the adoption by Conference of a national organising plan in 2000. This growth reflects both new recruitment and the rising numbers of staff transfers from services externalised from the public sector. However Conference notes with concern that our density remains less than ten per cent of the estimated 500,000 paid workers in this expanding sector, which reflects a significant recruitment potential.

Furthermore the diverse profile of the community and voluntary sector workforce, UNISON membership ranges across 4750 employers/workplaces, poses a major organisational challenge to UNISON at all levels in particular for branch officers who have to service these members in their own time.

Many members work in small organisations, with few staff and consequently no stewards or activists. Many organisations do not recognise UNISON and their size leaves them outside the laws on trade union recognition.

Conference endorses the organising strategy of the community and voluntary sector national forum which, in focusing on larger membership clusters of 20 or more, has steadily increased the numbers of stewards and workplace contacts as well as achieved notable success in securing recognition agreements. However, we also recognise that UNISON must continue to represent members in all organisations regardless of size. It calls on the National Executive Council, in consultation with regions and service groups, to update the national organising plan to improve the recruitment, organisation and representation of members in this sector, including the following measures:

1)mapping of potential areas for recruitment and identifying key employers for national and regional organising campaigns – taking into account new opportunities presented by initiatives such as mobile safety advisers and union learning representatives as well as the Information and Consultation Directive, from 2005 onwards;

2)a review of UNISON’s bargaining resources and strategy on pay, conditions, pensions and facilities agreements in the sector;

3)the development of regional organising plans;

4)improved support structures for branches, stewards and workplace contacts including training for activists on negotiating recognition agreement;

5)continuous updating of membership records, as this sector experiences constant movement of members across employers;

6)seeking to establish a workplace contact or representative within all 20 plus clusters and work towards to ensuring that branch, communications and democratic processes are both relevant and accessible members;

7)ensuring that additional resources are directed to regions to service the community and voluntary sector in conjunction with branches.