Organising in Local Government

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2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
16 February 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference recognises the huge challenges posed to UNISON’s ability to organise and recruit in local government in recent years. We have seen billions of pounds of funding cuts, which have led to the loss of more than half a million posts, with many UNISON members losing their jobs, and many more increasingly wary of being active in their union. The Government’s Trade Union Bill fundamentally undermines our ability to organise. Local authorities continue to cut facility time. Continued and accelerating privatisation and outsourcing, coupled with the weakening in Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) legislation, have also had a major impact.

Conference is not surprised that despite the best efforts of activists, branches and regions, recruitment figures in local government in recent years have been outstripped by the numbers of members leaving the union.

Conference welcomes the Service Group Executive (SGE)’s recruitment and organising strategy, which has the core issue of pay and earnings as its chief focus.

Conference believes that recruitment and organising need to be central to all of UNISON’s campaigns in local government. At all levels we must make sure that the ‘stronger together’ message is not an after-thought, and we must be clear that the higher our density, and the more active our membership, the stronger we will be in negotiations and industrial action. Our campaigns to improve pay and conditions and defend jobs rely on UNISON having healthy density levels.

Conference notes that UNISON’s recent recruitment figures for low-paid women in local government have been relatively good, but we still struggle to get low-paid women active in the union. We must do more to campaign on issues affecting these members to help identify, train and improve participation among more low-paid women activists.

Conference calls on the SGE to:

1)Maintain the close link between its recruitment and organising strategy and the service group’s campaigns on pay and earnings, and to ensure that pay campaign materials in all of the sectors contain a strong and integrated recruitment and organising message;

2)Emphasise the link between joining a union (and getting active) and increasing our collective strength, in both negotiations and action, at the same time providing opportunity for self-development and confidence-building for activists through learning and support;

3)Survey regions and branches regularly to identify what support they need from the Service Group on recruitment and organising, and to produce specific tools which will be of practical value to them;

4)Produce more materials aimed at the workplace concerns of low-paid women;

5)Work with the self-organised groups to ensure that the recruitment and organising strategy focuses on the specific issues relevant to recruiting and organising in the different equality strands;

6)Produce more materials aimed at specific occupational groups, and to maintain occupational organising as a key plank of the SGE’s strategy;

7)Share recruitment and organising best practice and lessons learned between regions and branches, and push each region and branch to send the service group one example to help facilitate this;

8)Continue to monitor density and seek to support regions and branches where this is an increasing concern;

9)Work with the NEC’s Development and Organisation Committee to seek to ensure there is a plan to organise around the Trade Union Bill, aiming to recruit new members and identify activists as well as retain members affected by the removal of Deduction of Contributions at Source (DOCAS);

10)Ask regions to report to the SGE on their plans for recruiting and organising in local government;

11)Promote the PayPlan service as being an important recruitment tool.