Support to Stewards in UNISON

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2014 National Delegate Conference
25 February 2014
Carried as Amended

Conference recognises that the role our shop stewards play in supporting members at work through discipline, grievance, absence procedures, changes to jobs, etc. can be very stressful on the individual stewards themselves. We recognise that stewards are often supporting members who have significant mental health issues. This can include members who consider suicide.

The pressure of supporting these members can lead to stewards developing their own stress and mental health issues. Where a member either attempts to take, or succeeds in taking, their own life the impact on stewards can be immense. Conference believes that it is crucial that UNISON has strategies in place to support our stewards in these circumstances.

Conference welcomes the development of support and mentoring systems for stewards and particularly welcomes the development of mental health and stress awareness training. Conference notes that some branches have worked with employers, mental health groups and health agencies to give stewards access to training on mental health and suicide awareness. The focus of the training is in being able to identify where members are suffering, being aware of how to refer members to appropriate support services and how the steward can keep themselves safe in these situations.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Instigate research into the impact on the well-being of stewards given the demands placed on them and the benefit to employers and society generally of stewards supporting members in these circumstances;

2)Identify what other supports could be offered to stewards in this field. This could include further training on stress management and publicising what services are available to refer members to;

3)Continue to campaign for employers to develop effective mental health in the workplace policies and produce advice for branches in negotiating these.