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2013 National Delegate Conference
25 February 2013
Carried as Amended

Coalition government policies are leading to the increasing fragmentation of public services, whether through outsourcing, personalisation or the breakup of established bargaining arrangements such as academy schools. This fragmentation leaves workers isolated in areas that can be perceived as more difficult to organise. Members working in fragmented workplaces can find it difficult to access support from branch activists who may be working for other employers. Some areas such as social care, schools and the community and voluntary sector have been more affected than most, but fragmentation is impacting across all the services in which UNISON organises. Low paid women have been particularly badly affected by fragmentation.

Conference recognises that the appointment of Fighting Fund Organisers (FFOs) has undoubtedly strengthened the organising capacity of UNISON, at a time when UNISON is under sustained attack. Conference welcomes the continuing development of the role and deployment of FFOs to ensure their best use based on an evaluation of their effectiveness. FFOs are an important part of a range of responses to the challenges faced by UNISON.

Conference believes that developing new ways of organising and supporting members in fragmented workplaces is also a priority. Conference therefore welcomes the work being done by the Organising and Membership Working Group in developing new approaches to organising across UNISON, with support from branches, regions and the strategic organising unit.

The evidence from the organising campaigns supported by the Organising and Membership Working Group is that where there is properly planned, coordinated and resourced organising campaign it is possible to recruit significant numbers of new members and build a sustainable organisation in these fragmented workplaces.

While there is no one best way to organise, Conference believes that the single most effective way to recruit new members is by talking to workers about the benefits of union membership. However, fragmentation can make it difficult to talk to workers face to face. Conference therefore welcomes the steps being taken to develop new communications media and mechanisms for supporting organising in such workplaces.

Conference recognises that attracting new members also depends on activity in the workplace. It has never been more important to develop new activists than now when existing activists are under increasing pressure at work and when trade union facilities are threatened.

Conference therefore calls on the National Executive Council to develop new and existing resources aimed at supporting organising in the fragmented workplace, including:

1)an online toolkit containing practical advice and real examples of how to recruit and organise fragmented workers;

2)the UNISON skills bank, where members can volunteer their skills and time to support the work of UNISON;

3)the smart phone ‘App’, which enables members and activists to stay in contact with UNISON.

Conference also calls on regions to develop plans for organising fragmented workplaces:

a)utilising information and advice from service groups and the strategic organising unit, as well as regional intelligence to identify target employers;

b)ensuring that relevant branches are fully engaged with the process, and that sustainability is built into the organising plan;

c)use and promote the use of the toolkit, skills bank and App, as part of the process of supporting organisers and activists in fragmented workplaces.